The Mile Starts Here Program
by Larry D. Jones, MPH
April 29, 2014
This year marks the third year of The Mile Starts Here, a weekly walking group for community members. The goal of the program is to share the wonderful parks, trails and walking routes in Independence, promote physical activity and help form friendship groups among community members so the walks will continue to grow. Last year, there were 115 walkers who participated throughout the season walking a total of 772 miles around the community.
The first walk of 2014 will be Wednesday,May 7 and will continue every Wednesday at 9 a.m. through the end of October.It is a lot of fun and completely free. Other opportunities for walking/physical activity in the area are often highlighted, as well as general health tips and incentives to motivate participants to keep walking. Free water and pedometers are also offered to those who join The Mile Starts Here program.
The program is truly beneficial to people who want to get outside and walk in their city but don’t want to walk alone. It also builds a great social atmosphere for the walkers. Furthermore, many participants enjoy discovering hidden trails and walks in their neighborhoods.
Each Wednesday there are anywhere from 10-40 residents joining the group on the designated trail of the week. This year the routes will be:
First Wednesday of the month: Waterfall Park at 4501 S. Bass Pro Dr. Join us there on May 7, June 4, July 2, August 6,September 3, and October 1. Meet in the parking lot by the playground behind Bass Pro.
Second Wednesday of the month: McCoy Park at 800 N. Bess Truman Pkwy. (the southeast corner of North Delaware Street and U.S. Highway 24). Join us there on May 14, June 11, July 9, August 13,September 10, and October 8.
Third Wednesday of the month: Independence Athletic Complex located at 17800 E. Salisbury Road. Join us there on May 21,June 18, July 16, August 20, September 17, and October 15.
Fourth Wednesday of the month: Rotary Park Trail at 10615 E. 24th St. South (South of East 23rd Street and just of south of Westport Road). Join us there on May 28, June 25, July 23, August 27, September 24, and October 22.
Fifth Wednesday of the month: This year the fifth week will vary to fit in even more mile walking paths than before. On July 30, we will walk the Missouri Department Conservation Trail/Santa Fe Trailon the east side of Santa Fe Park located at 2900 S. Santa Fe Rd. Meet at thetennis courts near West 31 Street South. Then, on October 29, we will walk the Community of Christ Temple trail located at 1001 W. Walnut St. For this walk,meet at the roundabout in front of the Community of Christ Headquarters.
What are other reasons you should walk the trails of Independence? There are several ways in which walking can helpimprove your health. For example, regular brisk walking can help:
1. Fend offheart disease: Regular walkers have fewerheart attacks and strokes, have lower blood pressure, and have higher levels ofhealthy HDL cholesterol than couch sitters do.
2. Dim yourchances of diabetes: Thirty minutes of walking aday makes your muscles more sensitive to insulin. That allows glucose to do itsduty inside your cells.
3. Slim youdown: Any physical activity is goingto help you burn more calories than you eat. Plus, walking can help squelchchocolate cravings and nix the stress and anxiety that often lead toovereating.
4. Keep yousharp: Physical activity nourishesbrain tissue and stimulates its production of neurons, synapses, and bloodvessels. Some studies have found that walking can counter faltering memories inpeople older than age 50.
5. Reduce stressand rev up your energy: Notonly can a walk perk you up when you need it, but it also helps improve thequality of your sleep, so you're more energetic all day long. Studies back upthat walking benefits your mood -- and may even ward off depression andanxiety.
The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits. Join The Mile Starts Here Wednesdaysmornings throughout the summer. You will find that there’s a lot to gain out ofa simple mile walk.