When Beacon Hill Village members heard that the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) was challenging seniors to walk or run throughout September, they did just what they always do: They formed a team, donned their sneakers, charged their Fitbits, and took to the hills and streets of Boston.
The EOEA encouraged all of its participating teams to collectively achieve 25 million steps during September, which it dubbed Fall Prevention Month. Team BHV had 32 members, each of whom reported weekly the number of steps he or she had taken to the BHV office. Individuals without some sort of step counter were credited with 2,500 steps per mile. The total number of steps taken by all team members combined was then sent to the EOEA.
“We began the challenge with a modest goal of 500,000 steps,” said BHV Executive Director Gina Morrison. “Seeing the step count blast past the goal during the very first week excited the members and motivated them to walk even more. We quickly moved our goal to 5 million steps.”
By the end of the month, Team BHV had taken 6,464,000 steps. “If anyone was of the mindset that older adults are sedentary,” said Morrison, “this group proved that team spirit and a challenge can get anyone off the couch and out the door.”
“The step challenge was a fun and important challenge for us to do together,” added Cindy Sullivan, a Beacon Hill personal trainer and senior fitness specialist who participated in Team BHV. “Walking is a simple joint-friendly yet powerful way to strengthen muscles and bones, as well as reduce body fat, increase endurance, and improve cardiovascular health.”
The CDC reports that brisk walking for 150 minutes a week, or 25 minutes per day, as one’s form of moderate physical activity, can actually help keep one healthy and prevent disease, she added.