A group of residents at the Chatfield Assisted Living facility are Stepping On It, showing that seasoned citizens have still got the moves.
Eight residents in their 80s and 90s are participating in a walking program called Stepping On It, sponsored by Kindred at Home — Home Health. They wear pedometers and go walking whenever they choose, either in the corridors of the assisted living center or outside on the grounds.
“It gets them fresh air, it gets them sunlight, it gets the cardio going,” said Chatfield charge nurse Krystal Wallace, who records the mileage on their pedometers and resets the devices once a week.
During a nine-week trial period last year, eight residents amassed 488 miles, and engaged in a friendly competition with the Redstone Park assisted living facility.
“We firmly believe that (citizens) over the age of 65 who are active in aerobic exercise, three times a week, anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes a day, have a better quality of life and function, at a higher level and for a longer period of time, than people who are sedentary,” said Brianna Butler, community liaison for Kindred at Home — Home Health.
“We decided we would, as an incentive for the elderly community, try to get it out there. Studies have shown that when we buddy together and have an accountability partner for exercise, we’re more likely to actively participate. Also, everybody likes a little bit of healthy competitiveness.”
At the end of last year’s nine-week period, representatives of the Chatfield and Kindred went out to eat with the Chatfield participants and gave them awards.
Elderly citizens are at risk for being injured in falls, Butler said, walking helps them improve their balance — a form of preventative medicine.
On a warm, sunny February morning, Step On It participants took walks around the Chatfield grounds. Wallace and Butler walked with them, joking with them and encouraging them in their progress.
“I walk every day,” said 91-year-old Joyce Harrison. “If the weather’s nice I go around the outside of the building. If it isn’t nice, I go around the corridors inside. I walk several times a day. It just keeps me going.”
Wanda Powers, 89, said she loves the activity. “It’s certainly good for you,” she said.
Lenora Massey, 83, agreed. “I love the walking,” she said. “It’s my favorite exercise. I go around the building. If that’s not enough, I go around again.”
Ken Nacke, 88, said he usually gets in “a mile or a mile and a half a day. It’s making my legs a lot stronger and my balance a lot better.”
Charlie Henry — a woman who frequently jokes that she has “two man’s names” — is 91, and said she logged 106 miles in the nine-week period last year. “I wasn’t doing that at home,” she said. “I think it makes you feel better. It makes your legs quit hurting.”
Martha Ours, 95, walked as a Step On It participant for the first time that morning, and she was ready for a rest after a short distance. Wallace told her she’ll build up her endurance “a little at a time” and will do “just fine.”
“They’ve done amazing,” Chatfield actives director Alanna Beard said.