Fast and slow, loners and talkers, young and old — South County Walks welcomes them all.
The walking groups meet weekly in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace. Each walk is 2 to 3 miles long and goes through parks, on trails or along the waterfront. The volunteer-led walks are scheduled through the summer.
South County Walks was established in 2016 through a partnership between the Lynnwood-based Verdant Health Commission, the Edmonds Senior Center and each city’s recreation departments to promote the healthy habit of walking.
“It’s really about providing people the opportunity to be active and give them something that’s regular,” said Verdant spokeswoman Jennifer Piplic. “It’s not a one-time thing, but something they can plan on doing up to four times a week.”
Research shows that walking regularly has numerous benefits, but chief among them are reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It also provides a boost in energy, reduces stress and improves your mood.
Group walks are even more beneficial, according a recent Anglia Ruskin University study. That research concluded that group walking increases quality of life, fosters social connections and improves consistency in exercise routines.
“The folks who come back repeatedly enjoy the connection they make with each other,” Piplic said.
South County Walks is modeled after Step Out Edmonds, a former walking club of the Edmonds Senior Center. Walkers were given a walking map that they could follow at their own pace. Each of the club’s maps outlined a 3-mile walk. Though the club was intended for seniors, all ages were welcome.
Members of the Verdant Health Commission liked the idea and thought it could be expanded to other cities — and open to all ages. It didn’t take long for other like-minded partners to jump on board. Step Out Edmonds is now part of South County Walks.
“I think it’s great that it gets people to get out and get moving,” said Michelle Burke, program manager at Edmonds Senior Center. “They can get out and meet new people, and see different areas and new things. It’s as much social as it is exercise, which I think is cool.”
If you’re bored of one city’s walking routes, you’re welcome to join another group. It helps keep the variety while exercising.
Walkers earn special cards if they go on at least eight walks over the summer. The cards allow them to enter drawings to win prizes, such as a FitBit and a pair of running or walking shoes.
If you go
What: South County Walks
When: Through September
Where: Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace
More: 425-582-8600 orwww.verdanthealth.org
South County Walks
Here are the locations and times for each South County Walks group:
Lynnwood: Meet at 6 p.m. every Monday at the Verdant Community Wellness Center, 4710 196th St. SW, and every Thursday at the Lynnwood Recreation Center, 18900 44th W.
Edmonds: Meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays at Edmonds Seniors Center, 220 Railroad Ave.
Mountlake Terrace: Meet at 9:30 a.m. Saturdays at Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion, 5303 228th St. SW.