To promote healthy activities like walking and bicycling, Portland’s Complete Streets Group and the Jonah Center celebrate those who serve as an example for others. Monica Jensen, a recently retired nurse, walks 4-5 miles a day, usually early in the morning, through her neighborhood, past the town schools and community centers such as the library. Sometimes she takes her granddaughter’s service dog, Liberty, out to the Riverfront Park.
As an RN who managed programs to prevent diabetes, heart disease, and strokes, Monica said, “The health benefits of walking and biking motivate me, but I’m also inspired by my mom, aunts, and uncles who have stayed active and thrive into their 80s and 90s. My grandchildren inspire me, too. I want to be able to sled, bike, play with them, and someday dance at their weddings.
Asked how all this exercise makes her feel, Monica replied, “Worries fade, or a new perspective opens up. I love seeing other people out walking and Portland’s many historic homes. Being outdoors in the fresh air helps ease the isolation and frustration we have all experienced with the pandemic. And exercising outdoors increases the benefits. Even a short walk around the yard or down the street is good.” She keeps track of her daily steps through an app on her phone and sticks to sidewalks or walks as far off the road as possible. Her advice to someone getting started: “Set goals, but don’t let a missed goal be a reason to quit.”