It is 9:30 a.m., and older adults at the Eastside Neighborhood Center (ENC) begin to gather into small groups for their morning stroll. They take their usual path across the foot bridge over the Lower Silver Creek Trail. In the midst of their mid-walk stretches, the seniors pause to observe the surrounding wildlife – egrets, Canadian geese, mallard ducks and ducklings, and the occasional turtle. Continuing along the pathway, the adults admire neighborhood gardens, literally stopping to smell the roses or to gaze upon trees carefully grown and nurtured by long-time residents.
From February to March, these older adults participated in Walk with Ease, a walking program developed by the Arthritis Foundation. The goal of the program is to encourage seniors to take their physical health into their own hands by developing good stretching and exercise habits. One of the biggest takeaways for the seniors is that an intense 30-minute workout isn’t essential to staying healthy – breaking up exercise into small 10-minute chunks throughout the day can make a significant difference in their energy levels.
For eight weeks, Santa Clara County seniors 60 years old and older met every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for a walk through either ENC or downtown San Jose by John XXIII Multiservice Center. The walks left lasting impressions as seniors discovered hidden gems in the neighborhood easily missed by car or bus. They were surprised to find that Cesar Chavez’s family home was just a five-minute walk away from ENC.