Meet Me Monday celebrates two years of fitness, fun and community

SPECIAL TO LIVING HEALTHYMay 10, 2014 

  • JOIN MEET ME MONDAY

    Boise

    5:15 p.m. sign-in, every Monday, Bandanna Walking and Running, 504 W. Main St., Boise; free. On June 9, there will be a special anniversary Meet Me Monday.

    New Plymouth

    6 p.m. sign-in, every Monday, Internet Truckstop parking lot, New Plymouth; free

    Kuna

    5:30 p.m. sign-in, every Monday, Kuna Visitors Center, 123 Swan Falls Road, Kuna; free

  • WHY YOU WANT TO WALK

    Corey Surber, executive director for community health and public policy at Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise, said walking is a good foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

    "Yes, there are still plenty who have made (Meet Me Monday) a way to start out their week on a healthy foot… and some of them have amazing stories of losing 50, 60 (or) 80 pounds with Meet Me Monday as part of their recipe for active living," she wrote in an email.

    Weight loss isn't the only bonus. According to the American Heart Association, walking for 30 minutes a day has a wealth of health benefits, including reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, risk of breast and colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, and improving blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood lipid profiles and mental well being.

    Shannon Harris, co-owner of Bandanna Running and Walking, said walking is a great alternative for people who can't (or don't want to) run.

    "Walking is one of the greatest things you can do," Harris said.

    Meet Me Monday is a great way to get people started, and ultimately, Harris hopes people incorporate walking into their daily lives. She recommends simple adjustments like walking to the store instead of driving.

    WEBSITES TO INSPIRE YOU

    Meet Me Monday: MeetMeMonday.org

    Ridge to Rivers trail system: ridgetorivers.org.Also, check your local parks and recreation website for trails/park information.

    High Five Children's Health Collaborative: highfiveidaho.org.

    Let's Move Boise: LetsMoveBoise.com

    Start Walking Now: The American Heart Association site, StartWalkingNow.org, is loaded with walking information. (Related story, page 20)

    Boise's Walk 150 website: Walk150.org. While this health initiative that ran in tandem with Boise's sesquicentennial

    celebration has concluded, the website still has great tips for fun places to walk.

    MORE INSPIRATION

    • If you think you can't find the time to walk, think of it this way: If you walk only three hours a week - that's 30 minutes a day for six days - that's just 2 percent of the hours in your week. Are you really so busy that you can't find that time? Corey Surber suggests a video by national expert Dr. Mike Evans to help you learn why to make time: http://youtu.be/aUaInS6HIGo

    • A pedometer - or a similar phone app - can motivate you to keep walking and help you achieve or increase your goals.

Every Monday for the past two years, Brian and Toni Orth have loaded their twin boys, Tyler and Taylor, into their car, driven to Downtown Boise and taken them on a walk for Meet Me Monday.

The family could walk in their neighborhood or on the Greenbelt, but they go out of their way to come to this event.

And they're not alone. On a recent afternoon in April, dozens of people showed up to the weekly event in Boise, many bringing strollers or dogs. The sunny day and warmer temperature bolstered the turnout that day, but even the most hostile weather doesn't stop the walkers.

Hard-core Meet Me Monday fans show up during rain, sleet, snow, wind and hail. Holidays don't stop them, either; Memorial Day, Christmas and the Fourth of July are fair game if they fall at the beginning of the week. On summer days, more than 100 people will turn out for the community event.

In June 2012, Saint Alphonsus partnered with Downtown Boise's Bandanna Running and Walking to start Meet Me Monday, a casual walking and running group open to the public. Now, it's expanded to include groups in New Plymouth and Kuna, and on June 9, the Boise group will celebrate two years of active Mondays.

Some even take the fitness program on the road. Participants have toted their T-shirts on vacation to Alaska, Hawaii and other farflung locales, promising to walk or run even during R&R and proving their commitment with photos.

Why has the event gained momentum? It's a combination of things, say participants.

Getting in shape is the biggest draw, said Connie and Dwight Pond. Since starting, Connie has lost 35 pounds.

While the focus is on fitness, the social aspect doesn't hurt, either. While a few individual walkers or couples show up by themselves, many meet others. Stacie Ward meets other special education teachers from the Boise School District. Carol Rae joins her daughters each week.

"It's a fun thing to do at the end of the day," Rae said. The location is also convenient for the family, she said.

The social aspect stands out as the biggest factor for Corey Surber, executive director of community health and public policy at Saint Alphonsus in Boise.

"I have seen two different sets of retired veterans who decided to make MMM a weekly opportunity to reconnect and go for a walk with an old buddy from their armed services days," Surber wrote in an email. "I have seen a family bring their senior mom as a weekly opportunity to get her out downtown to socialize."

The atmosphere isn't cliquey, either. New participants are welcomed and invited to walk with regulars, and everyone is eager to answer questions.

Meet Me Monday rewards participants for coming back. Organizers keep track of participation through sign-in sheets. After a certain number of appearances, those walkers get T-shirts, hats and other goodies. There are other benefits, too. Meet Me Monday has weekly raffles for prizes such as discounts at Bandanna. Walkers with stamps on their hands also get good deals at participating businesses.

The flexibility is a draw, too. Walkers trickle into the event starting at about 5 p.m. Monday for the 5:15 sign-in, but there is no solid start time.

There are also no set paths, either. Boise's suggested routes are about 3 miles each, and Kuna offers 1- and 2-mile routes, but many walkers set off by themselves, and only a few walk as a group.

And no one supervises the participants or monitors their heart rate or routes.

During the April 14 walk, the Orth family grabbed a quick dinner after signing in, then visited the fountain in front of Boise City Hall. The boys call it the "water monster," Toni Orth said as she and Brian helped Taylor and Tyler walk along the fountain's edge.

So far, the Orth family is the most loyal group of walkers.

"We've been here since the beginning. We've never missed one," said Toni Orth. The boys wear their shirts to school and brag about the participation, she said.

The Orth family hit its 100th walk on May 5. Another milestone: Taylor and Tyler will turn 4 in June.

The birthday falls on a Monday, Toni said. And, yes, the family plans to celebrate by going to Meet Me Monday.

Freelance writer Melissa Davlin is also the co-host of "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television. A graduate of the University of Idaho, she has been reporting about the Gem State and its people since 2005.

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