Mary Scharf feels her best when she’s active doing aerobics, biking, walking, and playing pickleball. Exercise was a regular (and beloved) part of her routine until she started to experience heart issues leading to an operation in August 2021 to put stents in her arteries. 

“Once I started having heart concerns, my doctor said to slow down, but then I got the stents and wasn’t sure how much activity I could do safely,” explained Mary, who lives in Arnprior. “When I tried going for walks on my own, I felt insecure and wanted to have people around me in case I needed help.” 

At a check-up with her family doctor at the Arnprior and District Family Health Team (ADFHT), Mary learned about its Walking Group that meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the high school track. In September 2021, Mary joined and has been attending ever since. 

“It has been something that I look forward to,” said Mary. “I have a regular group of people I meet there with similar health situations. It has encouraged me to move and progress my number of steps.” 

The Walking Group is for anybody who wants to walk but maybe doesn’t have the motivation to do it on their own or doesn’t feel safe doing it independently. The free program is open to anyone in the community and two ADFHT staff members attend each session leading a warmup at the beginning and a stretch at the end. The staff also record how many times each person went around the track encouraging participants to increase their number of steps over time. 

“We understand that not everyone is getting their steps in, and that physical activity is one of the best ways to prevent health issues,” shared Danielle Hill, Respiratory Therapist, ADFHT. “And for those who do have a chronic disease, like a heart issue or diabetes, physical activity is one of the best things you can do. With our Walking Group we’ve seen how that little extra motivation and social connection can be what people need to commit to regular exercise.” 

Mary has become more comfortable and confident going for walks on her own but still attends the Walking Group regularly.  

“I do want to see more progress in my function,” said Mary. “My plan is to add biking to my activities soon and I hope I can return to playing pickleball at some point.” said Mary. 

The Walking Group runs until September 29, 2022, and will return for its next season in May 2023. If you are interested in learning more or joining, contact the Arnprior and District Family Health Team at 613-622-5763. 

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