ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Ann Tringale, left, and Sandy Sturrock walk down Summer Street in Saugus.
By MICHAEL CONWAY
SAUGUS — Imagine another morning several miles inland from the Atlantic Coast, but they lace up their shoes just the same. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night… their rubber soles hit the pavement. However, these are not letter carriers adhering to the unofficial United States Postal Service creed, but a pair of Saugus seniors who’ve walked together through town nearing four decades. They’ve chatted the entirety, and have reaped the many benefits.
Meet Saugonians, Ann Tringale, 77, and Sandy Sturrock, 74, longtime friends, neighbors, and walking partners since the early 1970s. “But we don’t go out if it’s icy,” says Sturrock, for fear of injury.
Otherwise, four days a week at 9 a.m., they meet near Stackpole Field close to their homes. Unless sidetracked by a baby in carriage, or to snoop out a new house in the neighborhood, over the next 40 minutes, they’ll trek two-and-a-half miles through a section of town. First across Appleton and Summer streets, then they head west on Main to Newhall Avenue. At the Saugus Commons loop they reach the halfway point, and head back. At a pace just shy of power-walking, they’ve marched into healthier bodies and minds.
“I think walking is good, it gives me that good feeling,” says Tringale. “I feel energized … it gives me that spark.” She said their routine offers structure, and that structure is one of the best things in life. She also prefers being out in the fresh air versus a gym.
Sturrock reports many physical benefits. During a physical in January, she was given good news by her doctor. She has both good circulation and a good heart.
“My doctor told me to keep on walking,” she said. Additionally, she claims their routine has been good for stress relief. Last year, when her husband had to go into a nursing home, she found it a depressing time; “a terrible thing… a real downer.”
Still, she said the chats with Tringale have proved invaluable. “I’ve leaned on her more than once. I can tell her just about anything,” Sturrock said of her friend.
Of course, medical professionals agree with the benefits of walking. Informed of the ladies and their habitual routine, one Massachusetts General Hospital neurologist weighed in. “Studies show that exercise and socializing are some of the best things for a healthy brain,” said Marie Pasinski, M.D., Harvard Medical School faculty member, and author of “Beautiful Brain Beautiful You.”
Pasinski also said, “Exercise makes the brain more resilient to diseases like dementia, and decreases the risks of other neurodegenerative disorders.”
If not by name, Tringale and Sturrock are easily remembered as they walk and talk through town at an inspiring pace. Sturrock also reports being stopped by both fellow Saugonians, and total strangers when out and about. “They say things like, ‘We see you all the time.’ or, ‘Good for you.’” One bold person joked, “‘Your mouths are always going,’” Sturrock said.
So, what do they chat about?
“We are never at a loss for words. We talk about everything,” said Sturrock. Tringale offers a different slant. “I’ll put it this way: She’s my shrink, and I’m hers,” she said.
Over the last many decades, they’ve been part of Saugus’ mid-morning scene, and have wedged out for themselves a bit of notoriety, if not a slither of fame. But, more importantly, they have enjoyed good health and companionship.
“It’s such a simple thing, just put one foot in front of the other,” Sturrock said.
“You don’t even know you’re walking,” Tringale said.