THE benefits of walking in a group are well documented, but the “hidden” benefits – such as creating friendships, having someone to talk to, sharing a coffee, finding out about other activities and getting involved in volunteering opportunities – are equally valuable to participants.
That’s what makes the Mornington Central Mall Walking Group so special to its members after a decade of exercise.
The group began with a handful of members as Centro Mornington Walks in February 2009. They had the backing of Mornington Peninsula Shire and Peninsula Health.
Word spread and by 2012, about 25 walkers were on the books with 10-15 weekly walkers participating.
Now – with the increased popularity of regular exercise – the group has about 80 members with 40 to 50 donning their active wear and joggers each week.
“This group has become a mall walking community with members supportive and caring for each other through difficult times,” secretary and longstanding member Joan Law said.
“The program is run with the sponsorship of the shopping centre and the shire’s port and leisure section, and supported by a trained walk leader and team of volunteers.”
Ms Law said the shopping centre sponsors the trained instructor and provided a desk, t-shirts, rack for jackets, printed information sheets and name tags.
Walks are held 7.45am-8.45am on Thursdays, before most shops open. They go from early February after schools resume until the end of November when some shops open early for Christmas trade.
The supervised and supportive walking program is designed for older people but is suitable for all ages, Ms Law said.
“There are warm-up and cool-down stretches at the start and end of each walk, as well as some strength and balance exercises after every five or so laps.”
Walk leader Sandy Dillon has guided walkers through each week’s session since 2013. He works with the shire and has been trained under Council of the Ageing guidelines.
Volunteers Brian Baker, Beris Connell, Lesley Fawcett, Kimberley Turner and Chris Withers assist the walk leader and attend to the weekly administration at the centre at 78 Barkly Street, Mornington.
Anyone wanting to join the group should call Mornington Central’s centre management on 5976 1299 or Mornington Peninsula Shire 5075 0133.