Logging the miles to Nome
While Iditarod mushers and their dogs were trotting toward Nome last month, local seniors were also trotting. Not in dog booties, of course, but in thick-soled sneakers and snazzy Zumba shoes.
The Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center’s Iditawalk 2014 wrapped up a few weeks ago. The annual event, which spanned from Feb. 15-March 15, targets behavior and health goals.
About 40 seniors and staff participated.
Iditawalkers received “miles” for performing such tasks as 20 minutes of exercise, eating three to four servings of vegetables and replacing dessert with fruit and protein.
According to Betty Burke, a registered nurse at the center (whom seniors affectionately call Nurse Betty), the goal of the program is to prompt seniors to eat better through small and realistic changes.
“We always need some kind of impetus to exercise more,” she said.
The program is accessible to all, from the highly active to those depending on walkers and wheelchairs.
“Everyone can achieve some type of success,” Bruke said.
This year the Iditawalk targeted nutrition over exercise.
“I actually scored the food habits higher, and that was intentional because they are so habitual,” Burke said. “They’re the most difficult to change.”
About 40 percent of the Iditawalk participants kept with it and completed the entire program.
“I hope that all comes back as changes they’ll instigate for through the next year,” she said.
This year’s winning team, the Spunky Huskies, was the only team to rack up enough miles to make it all the way to Nome.
Team members included Judith Lindenfelser, who works in the center’s wellness center plus seniors Dorine McCall, Ella Wallace, Rosemarie Lombardi, Evelyn Sampson and Mary Linda Pryor.
“We kicked some senior butt,” Wallace said.
Team members attributed their success to re-evaluating eating habits and incorporating less saturated fat and more complex carbohydrates into their daily diets. They also took part in strengthening exercises and attended a weekly Zumba class led by Lindenfelser.
“I was the musher, I urged them on,” Lindenfelser said with a laugh. “That’s what it takes sometimes, someone nagging and needling you.”
The Spunky Huskies plan to continue exercising and eating healthier.
“We enjoy it,” Wallace said. “We’re going to keep it up.”