Guest Post: Walking Seniors Raise Fitness, Funds for Charity

This Guest Post is courtesy of Seniority Matters, a website rich with resources of especial interest to seniors.

The Marathon Of Life. Walk It.

by Fleur Sack, MD | 05/03/10

Fleur is a Fam­i­ly Prac­tice Physi­cian in Hol­ly­wood. Her med­ical inter­ests include pre­ven­tion and women’s health. She is cur­rent­ly devel­op­ing a Com­pre­hen­sive Women’s Health Pro­gram for female Vet­er­ans.

I nev­er exer­cised until I was 50. Then, two things inspired me. I was cel­e­brat­ing New Year’s Eve with a friend of mine who had mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. I asked her, “How are you?” And she said, “I feel won­der­ful.” And it turned out she was exer­cis­ing with a train­er three times a week. So I start­ed work­ing out with a train­er two times a week.

The oth­er thing that hap­pened was at my 50th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion, where I was talk­ing with two friends … she was in remis­sion from breast can­cer and he was a dia­bet­ic. They had just com­plet­ed a marathon.

They told me about Team in Train­ing www.teamintraining.org. It’s an orga­ni­za­tion that teach­es you how to walk (a marathon), and you raise mon­ey for lym­phoma. If you raise enough mon­ey, they send you to a marathon some­where.

So I got involved and they sent me to Hawaii. It was amaz­ing. I was hooked on walk­ing from that time on.

I promised myself that for my 60th birth­day I would walk anoth­er marathon. And I thought, I don’t want to be on a team, and I don’t want to raise mon­ey, I just want to walk. So I decid­ed I could do it around my own home. Around my block is a mile. I could go around 26 times, then walk to the end of the block and back and it would be 26.2 miles.…

Every­one told me how I should do it…how I should raise mon­ey… But I said no. If you want to join me, join. That’s it. So about 10 dif­fer­ent friends did dif­fer­ent parts of the walk with me. It took me about 7 1/2 hours to do it. I got sick in the mid­dle of it…but peo­ple just joined me. My 5-year-old grand­son walked the last mile with me. One friend walked 13 miles with me and ran the oth­er 13 miles.

(Before I did it,) my hus­band won­dered, how are you going to remem­ber what mile you’re on?…So he woke up the morn­ing of the marathon and blew up 26 bal­loons that he put on a peg board. Every time I would fin­ish a mile I would pop a bal­loon. And it was ter­rif­ic. …You have to have water, and a bathrooom, so when I need­ed the facil­i­ties I went in my house. He set out a big table with cut up apples and bananas. When I got too sweaty, I went inside and changed.

I thought I would make it an annu­al event, that I would walk every Mother’s Day. But I had a prob­lem with my foot and had surgery, so now I’m doing a bicy­cle. …And then I found out about this “vir­tu­al walk across Amer­i­ca.” It starts in Vir­ginia and ends in Ore­gon, 4,000 miles. It’s a web­site run by the Lawrence Berke­ley Lab (at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia). Go to http://exercise.lbl.gov/index.html You tell them how much you want to walk…

My goal is to get to 4,000 miles by the time I’m 65, so I have to walk 20 miles a week…I want to cel­e­brate my 65th birth­day in Ore­gon and walk the last 10 miles on the (actu­al) trail.…Every week, you send them how much you’ve walked, and they chart your course along this road, send you pic­tures of where you ‘are.’ I’ve gone 630 miles, I’m ‘in’ Mallie Ky. …If you have not met your goals for the week, they send you a (nag­gy) e-mail…and I can hear it in my ear. So it’s moti­vat­ing. You get a vir­tu­al part­ner, some­one who has the same goal as you do, and they send you an e-mail when that per­son pass­es you.… ”

Fleur is a fam­i­ly prac­tion­er who has spent her life pro­mot­ing good health. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, she says, “I would love peo­ple to get involved with it. It costs noth­ing.

And I am hooked on a per­son­al train­er, too. I real­ly think it changes peo­ples’ lives. I only start­ed when I was 50.…and I haven’t had any back pain since…

So I want to walk and see the world and feel great. You don’t have to be an ath­lete. I have a pic­ture of myself at 95, walk­ing onto a stage and giv­ing a lec­ture on women’s health. It’s very clear the con­nec­tion (between exer­cise, longevi­ty and good health).

 

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About Aaron Bynen

Aaron is a health conscious individual living in the Pacific Northwest.

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