Walking program offers exercise and opportunity to socialize

March 25, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

About 7 a.m. yesterday, Lisa Devlin of Arnold called her new neighbor Tiffany Bondurant and said, "They're starting a walking group over at Sam's Bagels. Why don't you just come with me? It's a beautiful morning, and it's something we can do that would be fun."

Paul Jaworski, 72, called his friends Adam Leipold, 70, of Bayberry and Thomas Luichinger, 60, of Eastport and said, "How about it?"

Those five and about 80 other people went walking, as have county residents in several similar programs organized by North Arundel Hospital to combine fitness with socializing.

Walkers got into their sweat shirts, windbreakers and sneakers, and mothers bundled up children and strapped them into strollers and set out to walk all or part of a 4-mile course that began at the bagel shop, meandered through some residential streets in the Bay Hills section, then wound up at the bagel shop again for coffee and a snack.

"We want to get rid of the winter blahs, being a couch potato all winter," said Jaworski, who walked about three miles yesterday with his two friends and plans to do the same about three times a week.

A little ahead of him were Devlin, 37, wheeling two of her three children, Thomas, 2, and Rosalie, 4, in a stroller-for-two. Rosalie held hands with Bondurant's 21-month-old daughter, Morgan, whom Bondurant pushed in another stroller alongside Rosalie.

There was no doubt that Devlin was getting a workout. "I have 60 pounds to push," she said.

Bondurant agreed to participate because she wanted to meet people and get structured exercise instead of relying on the treadmill at home, which she thinks is boring. "I have to have someone say, 'This is what we're doing; this is what time we're going,' " she said.

That information was supplied by North Arundel Hospital. Most Arnold residents received fliers in the mail from the hospital, inviting them to depart from the bagel shop at 7: 30 a.m. or 9 a.m.

Kevin Murnane, a hospital spokesman who walked the route yesterday morning in a teal nylon sweat suit, said about 35 people showed up for the early walk and at least 50 more for the later one. He said the staff at Sam's has agreed to reward walkers' consistency with bagels. Other walking programs the hospital has started since 1988 attract hundreds, mostly older, people who walk in Marley Station Mall, Tick Neck Park in Pasadena and other places.

"This one has a nice blend of grandparents, babies, people who are moms," Murnane said, adding that a similar walking program will start in Crofton next month.

"We try to go out into the community and reach area residents," said Monica Mengel, a hospital spokeswoman. "Not only is it a great way to get people out there walking, it's a means to get involved with the community and meet their neighbors."

Murnane credits the program, which is not supervised by a doctor, with weight loss and reduction in the need for heart medication for other participants.

After their walks, some participants went back to the bagel shop and kept two counter workers busy making sandwiches and buttering bagels about 10: 30 a.m.

"This is where we put back on the pounds we just walked off," Devlin said with a laugh.

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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