But exercising for health doesn’t have to be expensive — or boring.
The West Side Healthcare Advisory Task Force — a group aimed at bringing health prevention programs to the West Side of Stanislaus County and northern Merced County — has made spreading that message its mission for nearly four years. It’s especially the focus of the task force’s latest effort to promote healthy choices, called West Side Walks.
Slated for each Wednesday evening from June 5 to July 24, West Side Walks reinforces the task force’s yearly initiatives. It is designed to encourage West Side residents to stay active throughout the summer by walking in a safe, fun and friendly environment, and to promote many of the healthy benefits associated with exercising, according to Jeremy Ray, the city’s recreation coordinator.
“The goal is to improve health on the West Side, but part of doing that is encouraging people to first take care of themselves,” Ray said. “We needed an exercise program that was realistic and achievable, but (which) also gave people an opportunity to be social.”
Through the program, Gustine’s Henry Miller Park and the lighted high school tracks at Patterson Community Stadium and Newman’s Orestimba High School are open to walkers between 6 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays.
“It really brings families together,” Ray said. “This is a safe, supervised environment. Nowadays, it’s good to have these types of activities for people who are concerned about their health and wellness.”
Attendance has increased steadily in recent weeks, Ray added.
About 15 community members took the opportunity to amble under the lights June 19, including Patterson resident Bernardo Alverez.
“You have to take advantage of this beautiful stadium,” Alverez said. “I just came to walk around the track for some exercise. It’s a nice, safe place to try and get healthy.”
To encourage participants to keep track of the distance they walk during the eight weeks of West Side Walks, the task force is offering “walk wheels” — cardboard rounds that list health facts and provide a way to record the number of laps a walker has completed. They can be picked up at City Hall offices in Patterson, Gustine and Newman.
Those who return their completed walk wheels will be entered into a prize drawing.
Open stadium, open gym
Starting June 5 and continuing through August 5, the city of Patterson’s Parks and Recreation Department will resume its open-stadium and open-gymnasium programs, which welcomes people into Patterson Community Stadium free of charge from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays, and into Walnut Grove School’s gym from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
During those times, the football field and track at Patterson Community Stadium are made available to athletes of all ages, while the gym at Walnut Grove School is open to play basketball or volleyball.
Community members can also join in games of flag football, soccer, volleyball or stroll around the track at Patterson Community Stadium.
For open-stadium and open-gymnasium information: City of Patterson, 895-8000.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.