Start Right, Stay Strong challenge

Lila de Tantillo Health Guide
  • Saturday morning I got up at 5:30 a.m. to head to the local mall - and not for a sale. I made the trek to Pembroke Lakes Mall to participate in the Start Right, Stay Strong challenge. The mall walking event is part of a series, sponsored by Ladies Home Journal and the National Osteoporosis Foundation, being held around the country this fall to raise awareness about bone health.


    Walking around the perimeter of this South Florida shopping center adds up to just about a mile, I was told. Trainers were on hand before getting started in order to demonstrate a few basic moves for warming up. Afterward, I had my bone density tested by a heel scanner. It crossed my mind that several physicians I've recently interviewed have told me the results from such portable devices are not always reliable. I do hope they're right - the machine indicated my bone density is -1, just on the border of osteopenia. Definitely something to bring up to my doctor!

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    Unfortunately, it was apparent that turnout at the festivities was somewhat lower than expected. Just about a dozen people participated in the screening, a fraction of the number who had done so at the event outside Washington D.C., according to an organizer. Of course, awareness about bone health is less about attending special programs than about the proactive decisions one makes day to day.


    A great example of this sort of consistency is Phyllis Beshany, 64, a retiree who lives in the area. Phyllis visits the mall at least three times a week to join a group of mostly older adults for a stretching routine. She then walks all the way around the mall in air-conditioned comfort, making sure to follow each curve and corner of the mall border to get as much of a workout as possible.


    "Being almost 65, I have to pay attention to my health," said Phyllis, who was pleasantly surprised to receive a score of 1.5 on her screening. Besides making sure to get regular exercise, she takes care of her bones by not smoking - though she confesses that she falls short when it comes to taking calcium supplements. Nevertheless, I can only hope that when I'm her age, which is still several decades away for me, I might be as dedicated to my fitness regimen as Phyllis. This could be especially challenging since I'm not even as devoted to staying in shape at the present time -- though I do try.


    There are still mall walks left near four cities: Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas and Detroit. So if you live near one of those locations and want to check it out for yourself, go to for details. And no matter where in the country you reside, you may want to think about getting up early next Saturday morning and taking a brisk walk. Your bones will thank you.

Published On: October 07, 2007