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 three 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 6 to July 25, 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 Adrienne Chaney, the city’s recreation and community services director.
“The goal is to improve health on the West Side, but part of doing that is encouraging people to first take care of themselves,” Chaney said. “We wanted 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 9 p.m. Wednesdays.
“The focus is to offer supervised recreational activities for the families,” Chaney said. “We want to offer the best variety of activities that we can.”
Attendance has increased steadily in recent weeks, Chaney added.
About 30 community members took the opportunity to amble under the lights June 27, including Patterson resident Erica Rodriguez.
“You have to take advantage of this beautiful stadium,” Rodriguez 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 “fun-o-meters” — 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 fun-o-meters will be entered into a prize drawing.
Starting Monday, July 9, the city of Patterson’s Parks and Recreation Department will resume its open-stadium program, which welcomes people into Patterson Community Stadium free of charge from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.
During that time, the football field, track and weight room are made available to athletes of all ages.
Community members can join in games of flag football, soccer or volleyball or stroll around the track. Weight trainers can pump iron in the high school’s weight room.
The city hopes to convert the program into a year-round opportunity , Chaney said.
“It really brings families together,” she added. “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.”
For open-stadium information: City of Patterson, 895-8000.