older adults walking
Holly Creek residents walk around and near the community. (Photo courtesy of CLC)

Five hundred Christian Living Community residents, employees and family members recently pulled on their tennis shoes and hiking boots to see whether they could walk from New York City to San Diego — figuratively. 

Participants in a 30-day ‘Walk Across America’ event set up a friendly competition between teams to log the most miles of daily walking in and around their communities. Participants’ miles were combined by community and plotted across a map of the United States to see who would be the first to walk the distance spanning the East and West coasts. 

“The goal was to encourage residents, associates and family members to be more active,” said CLC Wellness Programs Developer Patrick Shelton, who developed and organized the competition. “Over the weeks, I noticed a pattern of increased miles each week to the next, which is exactly what I wanted to see. People started with a doable amount and then ramped up their activity over time, which is super good for health on many levels.” 

Prizes were awarded to the residents with the most miles walked individually and those with the best team names. This encouraged individual team members to challenge one another and shine in their areas of strength. In addition to walking, participants could count certain amounts of other exercise activities toward their walking miles. 

“All the community teams were very careful at tracking their miles,” Shelton said. “At the end of each week, I updated the communities with an email about their current “location,” and distance compared with other teams.”

The Holly Creek and Someren Glen life plan communities in Centennial, CO, ultimately topped the charts for the most distance walked. Someren came in first at 12,023.93 miles and ended in Perth, Australia, whereas the Holly Creek team of 79 residents and 20 team members walked 8,279.77 miles and have “relocated to French Polynesia in which each walker now owns their own private island,” Shelton joked.

All of the communities noticed increased activity by their residents and team members. Together the participating communities walked 49,311.04 miles — around the globe, twice.

“Everyone kept asking who was leading.” Shelton recalled. “It was great! Even better since every mile walked and every type of exercise counted towards having better mobility, health and quality of life. Every one of us made that happen.”

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