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Walking program ‘keeps us young’; sessions held at Digby Regional High School, St. Mary's Bay Academy

Sandra Turnbull, a walker and volunteer for the Digby Area Recreation Commission’s indoor walking program at Digby Regional High School, and Holly Thomas, one of the program’s participants, make their way through one of the hallways during a program session at the Digby school.
Sandra Turnbull, a walker and volunteer for the Digby Area Recreation Commission’s indoor walking program at Digby Regional High School, and Holly Thomas, one of the program’s participants, make their way through one of the hallways during a program session at the Digby school. - Contributed

Going for a walk can be challenging during the winter, so a program offered through the Digby Area Recreation Commission is a welcome alternative, enabling participants to get in some exercise without having to worry about staying warm or staying on their feet.

In a partnership with Digby Regional High School and St. Mary’s Bay Academy, DARC is giving people a chance to do their winter walking indoors. The Digby program is held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. At St. Mary’s Bay Academy, people are invited to walk Mondays and Wednesdays, also from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This is the second year for the indoor walking program and the response has been great, says Cara Sunderland, active living manager with the Digby Area Recreation Commission.

“People find it’s a great way to get active in the winter in a safe environment that’s well-lit and you’re not worried about icy sidewalks or if it’s snowing out,” she said, adding that the program’s appeal goes beyond giving participants a chance to do some walking without having to brave the elements.

“People find it’s a great social experience because they’re coming to a place and they’re seeing people they haven’t seen in a while and they can go walk and chat.”

She notes the team effort behind this initiative, given the involvement of the two high schools.

“They’re letting us come in and access their hallways to be able to have this program,” Sunderland said.

Anyone interested in taking part basically just has to show up at the school on the evening the program is offered. They sign in, put their indoor walking shoes on, do their workout, then sign out when they leave.

“We have pedometers available if anyone would like to use a pedometer to kind of track their steps while they’re there,” Sunderland said.

Among those taking part in the program is Sandra Turnbull, who, in addition to being a walker, serves as a volunteer for the indoor program at the high school in Digby.

“I make sure people sign in and sign out and make sure they bring their indoor footwear and tell them where to put their coats and stuff like that,” Turnbull said.

Given what the weather can be like at this time of year and how the footing can be tricky, she welcomes the chance to walk indoors.

“You don’t have to worry about snow and ice,” she said. “You’re warm.”

While the program goes for an hour, participants decide whether they want to walk the whole time or just part of it. Turnbull says it’s also nice to see people of different ages taking part.

Referring in particular to the Digby high school, where she walks and volunteers, she said the walking takes place upstairs through the school’s hallways.

“It’s a big school so it’s a bit of a distance going around each time,” Turnbull said. “In the beginning, they were going to do it in the gym, but the gym gets busy sometimes, so I like the upstairs much better, I think, than the gym would be.”

Sunderland says while program organizers are happy with the community uptake, there’s always room for more participants. For most of us, walking is an easy way to be active, she says, and this is a chance for people to do so without having to get bundled up or risk slipping and sliding.

“We’re really lucky in Digby that the town and municipality plow the sidewalks and take really great care of sidewalks, but sometimes people are still a little uneasy, especially at night, about walking and not being able to see black ice,” she said. “(The indoor walking program) is a great alternative.”

Turnbull shares that view, acknowledging the need for people to keep moving.

“It’s important,” she said. “It keeps us young.”

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