By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,312)
“The first thing my doctor asks me is: What are you doing for exercise?” said Marie Scott, 67, early this morning as she and her husband, George, 75, were taking an Amato’s coffee break from their two-mile walk around the inside of the Maine Mall in South Portland. “Walking around the inside of the Maine Mall,” she tells him. The couple have both suffered heart attacks and are diabetic. They consider their every day trek crucial to maintaining healthy bodies and minds . “If people don’t see you for a while, they wonder where you are and if you are okay,” said Marie. Seated at one of the large tables at the Food Court, seniors were gathering around 8:30 am and checking on each other to see how they are making it through the recent winter storms. “We stay as sharp as a pencil,” said George laughing.
It’s an activity that the Mall officials endorse as well. The doors to the Food Court open at 6:00 am Monday – Saturday and on Sunday at 9:00 am. Anyone can walk or jog around the one-mile perimeter of the building without bumping into others. The stores aren’t open yet. Amato’s starts serving coffee at 8:30 am for $1. a cup for seniors according to manager Steven Shea, whose mother grew up on North Street on Munjoy Hill. (A refill is free.) This morning it was especially crowded. The word has apparently gotten out. In fact, Mall employees say they’ve seen about a 10% increase in seniors walking since last year. People come from Augusta and Auburn to Walk the Mall because elsewhere they are smaller than here. The word is out and Mall officials are happy about it.
Michelle Cacho-Negrete walks at least once a day and sometimes twice a day. A non-fiction writer, she says she might come in feeling muddled about a writing project, but by the time she finishes doing her laps, she is clear minded and knows just where her writing is going. Most do it for the physical benefits received from the walk. Paul Kay, (Not A Senior) who works nearby said he walks three miles twice a day to avoid back surgery and ease his lower back pain. He’s been doing it for ten (10) years and so far it’s worked for him. Kay is in the oil products distribution business and recently it has been very stressful. This helps to reduce that stress level for Kay. Pat Flagg, 77, (she wouldn’t disclose her social security no!) walks three miles a day, a retired college professor from North Dakota, she enjoys the variety of people you see: People with strollers, mall workers and developmentally disabled people.
The Roustabouts, a group of seventeen youthful seniors, prefer to snowshoe and other outdoor activities. But the weather was too cold for that this morning. So they car-pooled down to SOPO from Auburn where they got their exercise. When mhn.com met up with them, they were preparing to eat at a nearby restaurant, Macaroni Grill, to celebrate birthdays of two members. “It’s become a social group as well as an exercise group,” said one of the members. “We often go to concerts and other things as a group.”
“Get moving. Just get moving,” said George Scott. “My wife and I are still ticking. Just like Timex watches!”