Sun City walkers out in force

Taking their fitness to the streets

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Walking has taken on new life in Sun City since the coronavirus came along.

Pre-March, one could expect to see a walker in the community once in a while. But when COVID-19 prompted Gov. Doug Ducey to issue a “stay at home” order and Recreation Centers of Sun City officials decided to close all indoor facilities until further notice, that slowly began to change.

Now it is common to see as many as 10 walkers within a few blocks space in different parts of the community.

“My exercise routine has always been working out in the Bell Recreation Center gym followed with either a swim in the lap pool or 40-60 minutes in the walking pool,” Joan Adair stated in an email. “Covid-19 drastically changed this routine with the closure of our rec centers.”

Other residents found their routine altered.

When the rec centers closed, Randy Asendorf started walking nearly every morning. He was a semi-regular at Oakmont Rec Center but would go in the afternoons, which suited his preference, not being a morning person.

“I see a lot of people out, both walking and biking, but, social distancing being what it is, I can do no more than say ‘good morning,’” he stated in an email. “I hope the rec centers open soon!”

There are definitely more walkers out, stated Hugh Duncan in an email.

“As one person said, ‘This is all we’ve got to do,’” he stated.

Getting eager to get back into the recreation centers, James Kontak believes opening the facilities would promote good health, the natural enemy of a virus.

“Does the board know that exercise strengthens the immune system?” he asked in an email. “No exercise means more infections and less ability to fight it off.”

He adapted his exercise routine at home but it is not as effective because he has no equipment.

Ken Stencel has no problem with the increased walkers in the community, but wants them to know how to do it properly and legally.

“With the closing of the rec centers I have seen more and more people out walking or jogging in the streets,” he stated in an email. “Not only is this dangerous but it is illegal here in Arizona!”

He said Arizona law stipulates the proper ways to walk on or cross streets. Citing Arizona Revised Statutes, he stated walking in the street when sidewalks are present is a misdemeanor offense, subject to fines of $250-$2,500 and up to 12 months in jail.

No matter how it is done, Bob Eschenbacher believes the more exercise the better.

“Strictly as an observer, and one who knows full well that he needs to be out amongst them, maybe this COVID 19 is bringing home the message that we need to take  better care of our own bodies,” he stated in an email. “Walking in the early morning, cooler hours is an excellent way to achieve this.”

Suzy Hallock-Bannigan is walking more because she can’t walk indoors or access the pool at Fairway Recreation Center.

“It is very soothing to walk a bit at the close of the day, especially at the closing of the sorts of days we have had recently,” she stated in an email.

With the governor’s “stay at home” order, residents look at walking for yet another reason.

“Who would have thought, when a year or so ago I decided the need to re-arrange commitments for some sane ‘me time,’ that we would be taking daily neighborhood walks and in-home exercise regimens for something to do and, more importantly, stave off ‘weight creep,’” Greg Eisert stated in an email.

He believes the walking does not take the place of gym workouts. So he is using a more private facility as an interim solution until RCSC officials reopen the rec centers.

Ms. Adair started walking in March and found many of her neighbors did the same.

“During my walks I’ve noticed how quiet it is other than hearing the birds singing — the quails talking to each other — and the bunny rabbits hopping about,” she stated. “The sky above is usually a brilliant blue with no con-trails. Yep, no planes flying overhead these days. It’s rather eerie.”

Pat Dilmore and her husband use to use the Bell rec center gym about five times per week. They miss the weight machines but don’t do any exercise at home.

“My husband has problems walking, so he uses a walker outside,” she stated in an email. “I do a little more walking once he returns home.”

Mr. Duncan and a friend were regular walkers at the Fairway indoor track, but now walk along the streets or the New River Trail between Thunderbird Boulevard and Olive Avenue, or occasionally in the White Tank Mountains. Residents do not have access to the Hillside Park at Lakeview paths because RCSC officials included that in the closures.

“We are now walking early mornings to avoid the heat,” he stated. “Everyone seems to be polite and keeping their social distance.”

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