Talk about the graveyard shift. The cemetery is the only place my mom took me for driving lessons because well, everyone there was already...You get the point. I never thought of a graveyard as an alternative to walking around the track or through the neighborhood, but for some women it's a fee-free, traffic-free, safe, and peaceful place to power walk.
ClownLady sent me an article about a cemetery, Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks-Griffin Memorial Park, in her city that has started a walking club/campaign called Step Out to Defeat Diabetes to raise awareness and funds for the American Diabetes Association. Their goal is to help employees and client families live longer, healthier lives. So what's it like exercising in a graveyard? ClownLady shares her experience:
How did you get the idea to walk at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks-Griffin Memorial Park?
The memorial park started a walking program for the community in order to provide a safe, clean environment for people interested in fitness walking. They even partnered with a local doctor to create a flier with stretches and walking tips. It's really helpful.
What do you like about it?
First I like the peaceful, natural environment. It's like walking in a large park. Their gardens are extraordinarily beautiful and the moderate hills provide a good place to get some serious exercise. There are no cars so it's safe and exhaust-free, and it's without traffic lights or intersections, so I can power walk without stopping. I also like seeing other walkers out enjoying the sunshine and getting in shape. There are quite a few folks who walk there throughout the day, including a team training to raise money in the diabetes walk.
What makes the cemetery better than other places to exercise?
1. Safety - in our neighborhood there have been an increasing number of accidents in which walkers were killed or severely injured. While we have a lovely lake, there is no continuous sidewalk, so you are forced to walk in the bike lane (which the bicyclists hate).
2. Health - I absolutely hate walking on streets where the exhaust can be overwhelming. Here, there is no pollution to contend with. Also, you can start, stop, stretch, do workouts that mix exercise with walking, use walking poles, even dance, and no one honks or yells or gives you odd looks.
Does it ever depress you to workout around death?
I don't consider myself being around death. The memorials in this park are a celebration of lives well lived. There is history here. The original cemetery in the entire Conejo Valley is here and fascinating to see. The expressions of love seen throughout the memorial park actually uplifting and make me feel honored to walk among those who are still so cherished.
Do you go with friends?
Sometimes I go with friends, other times I go on my own or with my dog.
How does this mesh with your fitness goals?
I walk to reduce stress and keep in shape. My goals are to get out and get active three times a week or more. Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park is close to my work, so it is an easy way to help me meet this goal.
Have you ever considered power walking in a graveyard? What's the most unconventional place you've exercised?