Mall walking program steps out at Clarkson shops

Walkers Maureen Banham (Landsdale) and John Thiele (Clarkson). Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d492405
Walkers Maureen Banham (Landsdale) and John Thiele (Clarkson). Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d492405

A FREE mall walking program recently started in Clarkson’s Ocean Keys Shopping Centre.

The Council of the Ageing (COTA) WA initiative caters for people over 50 with varying degrees of fitness and mobility who want to keep active and connect with new friends in a safe and welcoming environment.

For Maureen Banham, who has been an avid participant for the past 12 years, mall walking has completely transformed her way of life.

“I was recovering from a car accident and my surgeon told me that, rather than surgery, the best thing to do is keep moving,” Mrs Banham said.

“I could hardly move because of whiplash so to start off with mall walking was very difficult.

“But eventually I went from being the slowest walker to walking out in front of other people.

“I’ve been blessed with good health since and I haven’t had to have surgery because I walked slowly and built up my strength.”

COTA WA’s mall walking project officer Daphne Daley said she has seen hundreds of people forge strong friendships and improve their mobility and confidence in the four years she has worked on the program.

“Many people who join us no longer have so much interaction with others because they are recently retired, a widower or are living on their own,” Mrs Daley said.

“Mall walking keeps people connected with other like-minded people and this sense of community and belonging really improves peoples’ outlook on life and can even help prevent or slow down the progression of illness such as diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis and depression.

“We have some participants over 90 years of age and others use a walking stick or a frame or come along with their carer.

“Some even bring their grandchildren when doing grandparent duties.

“People often go on to socialise after a mall walk by having a coffee in the shopping centre with new friends.

“Many get together at other times to do hobbies they share in common such as needle work or men’s sheds activities.”

Run by specially trained leaders, each session starts with warm up stretches and distances range from 250m to 1km, with a gentle cool down at the end.

Ocean Keys centre manager Andrea Smith said she hoped the initiative would run throughout 2019 and into 2020.

“Our centre provides the ideal environment for walking because it is safe, undercover, spacious and has seating for people to rest,” Mrs Smith said.

“We encourage people over 50 years of age to live longer by being more active physically and mentally and we are welcoming and inclusive of people who might otherwise lead socially isolated lives.”

Held every Monday and Thursday from 7.45am to 9am, participants meet in front of Coles.

For more information, visit www.oceankeys.net.au.