Everyone knows the benefits of exercise. From Pharmasave's Live Well campaign to Curves The Power to Amaze Yourself, we are bombarded daily with evidence that is in favour of getting out and moving around. Evidence also shows that walking with a buddy or taking a friend to aerobics will heighten the chance that you will stick with a certain type of exercise.
Perhaps this is why Gerald has such a high percentage of people who get out and walk. Just drive through this town at any time of day and it is almost guaranteed that you will see someone out and about. It is a trend that has been catching on as each year passes. The valley road is imprinted with footprints instead of car tracks, and bright orange vests and Nike running shoes have become fashionable attire. Whether it's 40? below or above, walkers are taking over this town and showing the drivers who's boss.
The town has closet exercisers like Elise Dunster, who hikes her troop of kids over to the old store everyday so she can run on a treadmill.
Then there are famous walkers like John Anderson, who is able to get in quite a few rounds around the highway before lunch.
We can not disregard the 'lifers', like Monica Roussin who has been walking since 1978 and Flora Duffy who has joined her within the past 15 years.
Charlotte Neyedley and Wendy Lamontagne aren't far behind, having been walking for the past 14 years.
Jeannette Salkeld has been seen gracing the garbage dump road, and Nancy Pitz makes it around the block on quite a few days of every week.
Heather Drotar has tried everything from home exercise videos to biking, and has loved every minute of it. For 25 years she has been showing this town that it is a wonderful thing to be exercising. She claims that she wanted to teach her children the value of exercise, and the best way to do that was by doing it herself. Now that her children have their own children, she still claims that it is helping her age gracefully, and would never give up her walk for no love or money.
Cec and Holly Huber are somewhat new on the scene as well as Kristen Verner with her puppy . . . or shall I say DOG!
All of these people do it for the exercise. The short term benefits are that they feel energized for the day, but they all know that the long term benefits are what really keep them going.
Lillian Johnson says she's been walking off and on for a couple of years, but has been faithful for the past couple of months, trying desperately to keep to a walking routine. Three children, a husband, and a house to look after, it's a tough road to stick to.
From stories of heart disease to mental illness, high cholesterol to being overweight, all of the walkers in Gerald have a story to tell. They know that walking has not only helped them maintain a healthy weight, but it has helped with the unseen things within their bodies. Emotional upheavals can be calmed by a walk. Studies have shown that just being active outside can help with depression.
This spring will bring out a whole new batch of walkers. Every year someone new joins the ranks. It is always exciting to see new people out enjoying the roads of this pretty little town on the edge of the valley.
In a few months, Gerald will play host to a walking clinic. It will feature guest speakers on everything from nutrition to tips on maximizing your exercise routine. Please stay posted for the upcoming date and time.
Jaime Rieger, Gerald, Sask.