As the late shadows crept across Green Valley Park, two-dozen moms and daughters gathered to share in camaraderie, learn about health and fitness and take a walk.
“We saw this event listed in the Payson Roundup. Since my mom lives in Ohio, and I live in Arizona, we don’t get to spend much time together. This seemed a healthy way to share time,” said Sheila Marcum. Her mother Sharon Dobrinski sat at a picnic table getting her blood pressure taken by student nurses from Gila Community College in preparation for a walk around the lake at Green Valley.
“This will be a little snug as I check the pressure,” said nurse Tamara Davidson to her patient.
The event, co-sponsored by the Mogollon Health Alliance and the Eastern Area Health Education Center, (EAHEC) aims at proving that physical education can be fun.
“My thing is, if I stop I won’t start up again. I miss two days and it’s over,” said Terri Johnson a feisty woman with a southern accent.
“I hear it takes 21 days to start a habit,” said Holly Crump, director for the Arizona Rural Women’s Health Network and representative of EAHEC.
Johnson will have plenty of time to establish her habit. The mother-daughter walks will continue for the next four weeks on every Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m. in Green Valley Park.
“Make sure to pick up a pedometer then head over to the warm-up area,” Amity Justice, Crump’s daughter and co-collaborator reminded participants as they finished their check up with nurses and log the results in fitness logs provided at the event.
Justice and Crump epitomized the spirit of the day. A mother-daughter team, they’re committed to improving health outcomes for women.
Justice began preparing to run 5K races a few years ago by training on a treadmill. She’s now regularly participating in triathlons and major events like the 197-mile Ragnar Relay race, which starts in Wickenburg and ends in Tempe.
“I believe exercise, however it comes, is a healthy lifestyle choice,” said Justice, “For me, it’s about the fun.”
As squirrels watch the women in amusement, personal fitness instructors Cassandra Stouder and Nina Ray lead warm-up stretches and exercises. They throw out bits of advice to guarantee no one gets injured.
“Keep your chin parallel to the ground,” said Stouder, hoping to avoid pulled muscles or backaches.
The ladies laugh as they throw their arms over their heads, bend, stretch, and hop to warm up.
At 5:30, the group begins walking around the lake. Each figure-eight loop around the lake, across the road and up the hill by the band stage area equals a mile, according to a sign outside the parks and recreation office.
“The ladies can do as many loops as they wish,” said Justice.
On this first day, most stick with one loop.
Asked if she enjoyed the walk, Michelle Davidson said, “Yes, especially being able to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in awhile.”