The New York City Department of the Aging created “Big Apple Senior Strollers,” a citywide program that helps seniors ban together to lead healthier lives. Seniors can join a walking club in their community and try to meet a “steps taken” goal. Each club walks to achieve a target number of steps, anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million. Participants use a pedometer to count their steps and at the end of the program their totals contribute to the club/organization’s goal.
Director Theodora Ziongas said the seniors first joined the walking program last year, and it was brought back by popular demand. Over twenty participants, ages 66 to 90, signed a pledge to try and meet their goal of 500,000 steps as a group. Rain or shine the seniors were invited to walk around the Great Lawn during the warm weather and indoors if it was raining. Seniors of all levels were welcomed to join the walking group, whether they could walk one block or three miles. Ziongas encouraged members to keep moving to stay fit and shed those excess pounds with friends and neighbors.
Collectively they surpassed their goal with a grand total of 520, 624 steps. The walking group was notified about their achievement last week, and a sheer sense of elated surprise and pride emanated from the SCSP’s multi-purpose room.
Many of the seniors credit the walking group to a sense of rejuvenation, weight loss, and the lowering of blood sugar. “I feel lighter, and the muscles in my legs are not as tight as they were before,” said Shirley Richardson, 66, who explained that she felt more energetic.
Others say they were able to get to know their neighbors and make new friends. Rebecca Johnson, 76, and her newfound friend Vernell Capers, 72, enjoyed their brisk walks together around the Great Lawn, where they were able to walk at their own speed and still socialize with one another.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education, walking is a simple activity that can help reduce the risk of heart disease, improves your balance and coordination as well as blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Walking helps to maintain a healthy weight, and enhances Big Apple Senior Strollers Program Surpasses Walking Goal mental well-being.
Although the Big Apple Senior Strollers part of the program is over, the walking group will continue to meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am. If you are interested in participating just stop by Spring Creek Senior Partners located at 160 Schroeders Avenue or call 718- 348-7620.
By Amanda Moses
Photo: Amanda Moses