This time of year, the weather outside can be frightful as snow and ice makes for unsafe conditions. That’s where the St. Charles Park District comes in with opportunities for community members who wish to continue a practice of low-impact exercise even when outdoor elements get in the way.
From December through March, the park district offers drop-in walking to those of all ages at Haines Gymnasium and Sportsplex. At Haines, walkers can take advantage from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, while indoor walking is available from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Sportsplex.
“This indoor walking opportunity suits the whole community during the winter months, especially those who don’t have any other indoor options to get some exercise,” said Sabrina Hunley, aquatics and supervisor at Haines Gymnasium.
Indeed walking has been shown to have a wide range of benefits to individuals’ health and overall well-being, according to the acclaimed academic medical center Mayo Clinic. And it is particularly important in cold winter months when people have a tendency to be more sedentary.
Foremost among key benefits are maintaining a healthy weight as well as the loss of body fat. This can aid in the prevention of a number of conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. Walking has also been shown to improve one’s mood and mental acuity as well as memory and sleep.
The Mayo Clinic stresses the importance of proper walking technique to maximize health benefits and guard against strain. The institution advises looking forward as opposed to looking at the ground with a relaxed neck, shoulders and back. Arms should swing freely with a small bend in the elbow while stomach muscles are slightly contracted.
The more distance walked and the faster the pace the greater the cardiovascular benefits to the walker. At Haines, 13 laps around the gym equals a half mile. At Sportsplex, 10 and a half laps around the outer edge of the turf field results in a one-mile walk.
The opportunity is free to all residents of St. Charles. Nonresidents pay $3 a person. Beginning in 2023, indoor walking will be $5.
To learn more, visit www.stcparks.org.