• Last modified 702 days ago (Feb. 19, 2020)


Walking track a resource for area's senior citizens

Staff writer

Not even single-digit temperatures last week could stop Richard Schaffer from making the trip to Marion Aquatic Center to use its indoor walking track.

“This unique situation we have in Marion allows for activity 365 days a year,” he said. “Minus a few days where there’s a basketball game, but it doesn’t happen too often where you can’t walk.”

Schaffer, a retired physical therapist, said many of his clients were seniors who became sedentary as they grew older.

Seeing that pattern from his clients showed him the importance of staying active.

“The most they’d walk might be 30 of 50 feet in the house to go from the recliner, to the bathroom,” he said. “That was their active world. I realized that you need activity outside the home.”

Jerry and Lois Smith walk six days a week, but they prefer to exercise outdoors.

“If there’s ice out there we’re not going to walk, but we’ve walked at times when it’s single digits and no wind,” Jerry said. “If you keep going it’s not bad. I grew up on a farm, and you learned to work outside. You just put enough clothes on.”

Getting out walking isn’t the Smiths’ only form of activity. They also do exercises to improve balance, stretch, and some lift weights, Lois said.

“We just like to stay active and moving, so we can keep being active and moving,” she said.

The couple usually walks between 40 and 50 minutes. Their schedule varies day to day, but they prefer to walk in the morning before 9 a.m.

“I’ve never been inactive enough to know what happens if I don’t stay active,” he said. “In the summer we’re out walking and exercising, and then we play nine holes of golf after.”

Even when Lois had hip surgery, she said it was a priority to get her feet moving again.

“I went through all my physical therapy and got back to doing what we do as quickly as possible,” she said. “We didn’t want to remain sedentary.”

Schaffer manages four miles a day, prefers longer distances. Unfortunately, that means he’ll have to wait until a doctor approves him for longer distances.

“I hope to get clearance to increase, because I enjoy walking,” he said.

Walking indoors does present an advantage, though, as a controlled environment, Schaffer said.

“When it comes to elderly people, you just can’t beat plain walking,” he said. “I practice what I preached to my elderly patients over the years.”

Last modified Feb. 19, 2020