Sixty seniors at Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo have set out to complete 1,430 miles worth of activities in an attempt to figuratively “walk” from the top of Texas, Texline, to the very bottom, Brownsville, in participation with the statewide “Walk Across Texas!” initiative.
Barbara Epperson and Frances Evans, two friends and fellow residents at Baptist Retirement, are working together to support each other and reach this goal with their teams.
“I’m allergic to activity, but I decided to give this a try in hopes of picking up a more active lifestyle,” joked Epperson. “I actually lived a really active lifestyle nine months ago, but my knees started giving me problems and I’ve been holding back. It feels really good to get back in the swing of working out again.”
Thanks largely to the competition, Epperson joined the Baptist Retirement wellness committee, started taking tai chi classes, riding her bicycle and going for walks. She walks a mile and a half to two miles each day, often with her dog.
Evans, too, walks three to three and a half miles a day. Before her knee surgery, she walked five miles a day! Working to rebuild that strength, she goes to the YMCA four days a week to use the treadmill, participate in the cycling classes and use the elliptical machine.
“While I usually work out on my own time, the Walk Across Texas! program has encouraged me to work out in groups more often,” Evans said. “It’s nice meeting new people and interacting with them while we work toward similar fitness goals. The more activities we complete in groups, the more points or ‘miles’ we get. We hold each other accountable and it’s fun!”
Both Epperson and Evans believe that if people keep moving as they age, they’ll stay mobile and vibrant longer. For the Walk Across Texas! competition at Baptist Retirement, each team earns extra miles for certain wellness activities, including tai chi classes, cycling or walking in groups.
“I may not be the most active person on my team, but I cheerlead for everyone to encourage them,” Epperson said. “I’m getting to know everyone better and it’s a great way to be involved. So far, I’ve completed 35 miles for my team. Frances has completed 60 miles. We have more to accomplish and I’m excited to see the results.”
Evans’ team has walked 393 miles thus far, and Epperson’s team has walked 573 miles. The resident who has walked the most miles as an individual thus far is Barbara Pfeil , who has walked 145 miles.
Marilyn Allums, life enrichment coordinator for independent living, initiated the competition. Her hope was to enhance fitness routines, push active residents to try new things and encourage group participation in wellness activities.
“Walk Across Texas! is a program sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension,” said Allums. “I thought it would be fun to implement this walking competition on our campus so that residents could get in the habit of walking daily, as well as to raise awareness for ways in which they can achieve increased physical activity in their wellness routines. To conclude the program, we will celebrate with a pizza party, which they will deserve for all their hard work. I can’t wait to see which team reaches the goal first!”