Royal Oaks Walking Group
The morning air was crisp and the sun was just beginning to peek out from behind the gray haze—perfect for an early brisk walk, according to Royal Oaks residents Richard and Teru Graves.
Dressed in light sweats and walking shoes, the Graves head out to the fitness center to meet a half-dozen of their neighbors—all of whom are ready to charge the Duarte Bike Trail just a stone’s throw south of the Bradbury community. The group sets out for at least a five-mile jaunt that takes them through Royal Oaks and Encanto parks and near the San Gabriel River trail.
“We used to walk near our home in Long Island, and we thought we really walked quite a bit, but nothing compares with the walks we do now,” says Teru. “We’re in great shape.”
Richard chimes in, “And we get a chance to enjoy the camaraderie and the comedy during our walks.”
Fitness Director Donna Cazares added the walking group to her fitness classes more than five years ago, when heath and wellness experts recommended the use of the walking stick and pedometer to help set exercise goals. The walking class was the perfect fit given the nearby trail; Royal Oaks also has its own short path located in the small park behind the community’s skilled nursing and assisted living center.
“Walking is a part of my exercise regime and I wanted to help residents reap the benefits walking provides, and to show them that you are as young as you feel. Walking provides that high,” says Cazares.
The benefits of walking are fourfold, she adds. Walking improves balance, flexibility and metabolism. It also can boost a senior’s overall outlook and quality of life, especially if you’re walking with a group of friends. “The more you walk, the longer you will be able to do so without the help of a walker or a cane,” says Cazares.
Each day, the walk is different. Twice a week, Cazares incorporates a short brisk stroll throughout the community with various strength-training exercises like tricep pushups and sidestep lunges; on Wednesday, residents walk to the local Starbuck’s or family diner for breakfast. “I started this because a lot of our residents have come from other communities and weren’t aware or felt comfortable exploring this community on their own,” says Cazares.
On Thursdays, Cazares takes the group out for their long weekly walk. “We’re not walking at a slow pace; we’re moving pretty fast,” says Richard Graves.
The quick pace is just an added benefit, says resident Bob Hiller, who moved to Royal Oaks eight months ago. “We all go for these walks together because we can,” he says. “And we will continue to do so as long as we can.”