Reasons to Ramble

The following story was written by Whitney Cappellucci, a current med student at The University of New Mexico originally from Raton, a small city in northeastern New Mexico.

Growing up in Raton left me with fond memories of playing sports, camping, fishing and lifelong friends. I graduated high school in Raton with a class of 69 students in 2006. Fast-forward to the summer of 2017 and I was heading back to Raton to spend six weeks in an Obstetrician-Gynecology clerkship and immersing myself back into my hometown community. During my summer there, I explored strengths and weaknesses of the community in terms of health. I visited with several Ratonians. Every visit brought up a common need for the city: physical activity.

A hiker walks in the hills looking over the City of Raton.

I left that summer with an abundance of information about this need but nothing to offer my hometown. This is when I learned about Ramblin’ Round Raton. This effort aims to promote healthy lifestyles through walking and hiking in Raton and on nearby public lands. Champions of Raton have come together to organize and support walking groups, sponsor walking events, advocate for walkable streets and highways, promote the development of trails, and support the enhancement of walking places.

My grandmother is a member of this community. Ramblin’ Round Raton is a wonderful opportunity for her to become more active and to live a longer, healthier life. I’m sure these feelings are shared by others who live in the town and want the same for their loved ones. My grandmother was involved in the “Walkability Workshop” in October of 2017, in addition to approximately 30 others. Together, this team of people on the same mission explored walking trails and sidewalks to identify ways to improve safety and convenience of walkways in Raton.

Whitney’s grandmother at Raton’s Ripley Park during a walkability workshop to identify safety and access issues within the city.

Why should someone consider beginning a walking program? A healthy 80-year-old may be very close to no longer having the ability to stand up from a seated position. Physical activity can delay this onset and allow the elderly population to continue executing independent activities of daily living for a longer period of time. Walking can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, thromboembolic stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline [1]. Simply walking can improve brain function! Not to mention, it can reduce the likelihood of falls, which is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly population. In addition to all these health benefits, walking can be therapeutic AND the whole family can participate in this activity. On top of all of that, Raton has such beautiful scenery! What an excellent way to appreciate one of the most wonderful things about Raton.

How can you get involved? Be on the lookout for the walking groups promoted on Facebook, local radio and newspaper. Check out viva-connects.org and follow Facebook pages The Center for Sustainable Community, UNM Prevention Research Center, Raton Parks & Recreation and GrowRaton! You can also find Walking Guides throughout town and online [2]. If you are unsure if you should start walking, ask your doctor to fill out the first page of your walking guide for instruction. You can also contact the two folks at the spearhead of this movement, Patricia Walsh and Nichole Romero.

This is a very exciting time for the  Raton. I’m really looking forward to watching the community members work together as a team and, together, becoming a healthier, happier city.

References:
1. Morey, Mirian C. “Physical Activity and Exercise in Older Adults.” Www.up-to-Date.com, 3 Apr. 2017, www-uptodate-com.libproxy.unm.edu/contents/physical-activity-and-exercise-in-older-adults?search=benefits+of+physical+activity§ionRank=1&usage_type=default&anchor=H96786655&source=machineLearning&selectedTitle=2~150&display_rank=2#H96786655.

2. Ramblin’ Round Raton Alliance. “Walking and Hiking. A Guide to Places in and near Raton, N.M.” Www.viva-Connects.org, www.bing.com/cr?IG=C043EA090CEC45888D7ABDA08539A18E&CID=3070F4A311E26D143D74FF01104D6C0E&rd=1&h=i-64aYpyqAUH0rBAxD7xXaYP1qKKXyTKdKyE7bXpKhw&v=1&r=https%3a%2f%2fviva-connects.org%2fwp-content%2fuploads%2f2017%2f03%2fWalking-Trails-FINAL_Booklet_Reformatted_030117rv_ALL-PAGES.pdf&p=DevEx,5041.1.