Indoor track great for rehabilitation

Staff writer

Many people are using the walking track at USD 408 Sports and Aquatic Center for rehabilitation and health maintenance.

Charles Heerey, now 81, had a heart attack in 1988 and angioplasty. Eight years later, he underwent bypass surgery. His doctor put him on a walking regimen. He visits the gym seven days a week and walks 1½ miles or 18 laps.

His wife, Virginia, 78, has walked for pleasure for several years. In 2000, she had a a blood clot in an artery to her lungs. Her doctor told her she had to walk to prevent similar problems in the future.

“That’s when I quit liking it,” she said. “It’s a chore, but I’m glad I can get up and go.”

She walks two miles six days a week but walks separately.

“I can’t walk as fast as Charles,” she said.

When the weather is good, they walk outside.

John Shofe, 80, and his wife, Elsa, of Hillsboro used to take Robert Sextro to the center to walk and swim, so they were familiar with the facility when John had a heart-valve replacement in September. When his cardiologist asked him if there was an indoor facility close to home where he could walk during inclement weather, he knew just where to go.

The couple visit the gym two or three times a week and walk at least a mile, occasionally stopping to rest.

“I’m getting better,” John said. “The last time I was there, I walked eight laps before I had to stop, and I sat down only once.”

He said he used to golf a lot, but his golfing buddies are gone. He’s working hard to get back in shape for it this spring.

Elsa said the walking track was a boon to the community.

“Even if people are in pretty bad shape, they can get some exercise,” she said.

Jeff Christensen, 50, of Marion lives next door to the gym at Hilltop Manor. He uses the center every day of the week when the weather is bad. He walks at least 12 laps twice a day Monday through Friday and uses the pool at least three times a week.

A stroke in 1999 affected the right side of his body. He weighed more than 300 pounds. After he was rehabilitated, his doctor told him he needed to walk to lose weight.

He walked for many years with his dog, Spike, a companion that died in October after 12½ years. Jeff’s persistent walking has helped him drop his weight as low as 260 pounds.

Craig Matz of Marion had a stent put into his heart a couple of months ago. He walks at the gym twice a day.

Some people, like Kenneth and Margie Sandwell of rural Marion, use the facility not for rehabilitation but merely to maintain their health as they age.

“We walk a lot,” Margie said. “If we miss a day, we don’t feel right.”

Betty Fruechting, 77, of Marion had back surgery six weeks ago. Her therapist recommended she walk to strengthen her legs. Her husband, Don, 83, said they walk at the gym three or four laps every other day.

“It keeps me going, too,” he said. “For a town like Marion, it’s awesome to have a facility like that.”

 

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