Winter Walkers Exercise and Socialize at UMM Fitness Center
MACHIAS, Maine – Twice a week, 40 to 50 people lace up their sneakers and hit the hardwood floor at UMM’s Reynolds Center Gymnasium. But they’re not shooting hoops. This steadfast group of seniors has spent the winter months walking circuits around the gym as a way to exercise and socialize with others.
Started by Gretchen Cherry of Machias, the indoor walking group began when a handful of people took their exercise indoors when the winter weather made walking outside too dangerous. The UMM Fitness Center provides the group with free use of the gym and Cherry uses the Sunrise Senior College to publicize the walking program to SSC’s growing network of Washington County seniors.
Over the course of the hour-long session, the participants are led through warm-up stretches, 30 minutes of walking, and a series of cool-down stretches. Music over the loud speakers provides a rhythm to keep everyone smiling and moving.
On this particular morning, Cherry’s husband, Bill, was leading the group of approximately 45 walkers while his wife was out of town.
“Every ten minutes we reverse direction,” said Cherry as he blew a whistle. “It helps change things up.”
It was clear by looking around the gym that the program is providing a much-needed mid-winter boost for local community members. Dozens of seniors are healthier—and happier—because of it.
Organizers say that the free indoor walking program will continue as long as the facility is available and there is interest in the community.
The group walks every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 10 a.m. at UMM’s Reynolds Center Gymnasium. To learn more about the Sunrise Senior College, visit ssc.umm.maine.edu.