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Digby walking program helps residents stay active and out of the elements

Roger and Joan Boutilier of Wolfville are shown in this 2014 file photo after they walked from Yarmouth to Digby. The Digby Area Recreation Commission recently began a walking program to encourage staying active during the winter months. JONATHAN RILEY FILE PHOTO
Roger and Joan Boutilier of Wolfville are shown in this 2014 file photo after they walked from Yarmouth to Digby. The Digby Area Recreation Commission recently began a walking program to encourage staying active during the winter months. JONATHAN RILEY FILE PHOTO

Saint Mary’s Bay Academy began indoor walking program this month

DIGBY, N.S. - The Digby Area Recreation Commission (DARC) has found new ways for residents to remain active this winter.

An indoor walking program is being offered at Saint Mary’s Bay Academy every Monday and Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Cindy O’Neil, administrative assistant for DARC, said the program began this month and in January, a walking program will also be offered inside Digby Regional High School.

O’Neil said DARC wanted to offer the free indoor walking program to keep people active and out of inclement weather.

“We did have a couple inquiries about if it was possible to do it during the winter,” she said. "Our only logical place during the winter is in the schools because we don’t have an indoor facility.”

O’Neil said the new walking program is popular among seniors. She said being able to walk indoors on a flat surface in a warm building is very attractive when ice and snow cover outdoor walking areas.

“They don’t have to deal with the snow, wind or hills because our town is quite hilly. For anybody who has issues with their knees or hips, sometimes the hills can be an issue for them. So they like the flat walking surface.”

In previous years, DARC has offered indoor walking inside the Digby Arena, but only after the ice is taken out in March. O’Neil said this site was used until the end of April once the weather improves.

O’Neil said set times haven’t been established yet for DRHS but it will likely fill in the gaps during the week so there will be two locations to walk most days of the week.

Bob Powell, recreation manager for DARC, said it’s a good idea for smaller communities to partner with others to make use of existing infrastructure.

“We know how important walking is and it’s one of the easiest things that everyone can do,” he said. “But in the winter, there’s not a large mall, so people can’t walk there. Certainly, with weather conditions (people) don’t feel safe walking, especially the seniors. There’s some darkened areas because it gets dark early so what we’re trying to do is provide a safe place for people who like to walk, because we do have a walking community.”

Powell said he’s thrilled a solution has been found to help residents stay active.

“We’ve just started the program and both facilities are excellent for walking. It will be a nice gathering spot and a nice social evening. It’s important because it’s not all about sports – it’s about recreation and it’s about prevention and that’s kind of what we do.”

The walking program as Saint Mary’s goes until April or May. Indoor shoes are required and participants must sign in and sign out of the building. Children under the age of 12 must be with an adult.

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