Senior walking club covers distance of Canada

Kelly Snider
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HEALTH. When the Fit as a Fiddle walking club at Symphony Seniors Living Orléans started up their program, their initial goal was to walk the distance of Canada.

On Sept. 20, the walking club reached their final stop in the Maritimes. The club had 28 regular walkers and three dogs who walked along with the residents.

Now, ending their journey just eight months later, all together the group has walked even more than the distance of Canada as they  have covered 8,132-kilometres.

Pierrette Woods, a resident and one of the organizers behind the club, said it has been a benefit for all residents.

"Some of the residents that have never gone off the property or never went outside, we've been able to draw them outside and even just walk around the parking lot or venture on the street," said Woods. "It has also brought everybody closer, with everybody talking to each other."

She said during the winter time, it has also allowed residents to socialize as many would walk in the halls.

The walking club was first launched in Feb. 2016. Sylvie Ross, the activity director at Symphony, wanted to start something to get residents exercising more, and after speaking with Woods they came up with the idea of a walking club.

"I said well if we're going to do this, and make it work, it has to have a name," said Woods. "Fit as a Fiddle walking club just came off the top of my head."

She added that when they first kicked off the walking club, they made the point that you don't have to walk on two feet. Residents could use a cane, crutches, or wheelchair.

"It still makes the heart and muscles work. Everybody has a way of walking and everybody was welcome in the club."

Those who took part were residents of all ages.

Arline Falardeau, 98, said she loves to walk so she knew she had to join the club.

"It's been a very good effect for symphony. I met a lot of people I haven’t met before…I love to walk and I'll always continue my regular walks every day."

Throughout their walk, they've made different "stops" in cities across Canada.

When they reached Calgary, they hosted the Calgary Stampede at the residence. Organizers set up horse races, a roping contest, and everybody got into the stampede spirit with their cowboy hat.

"When we reached Regina, we went to the musical ride, for Winnipeg we're going to the Mint this month, and Ottawa we went for a beautiful ride on the canal. Then in Quebec, we had a poutine festival."

On Sept. 20, the group headed down to Petrie Island as they reached the Maritimes. They went through the Atlantic Provinces and had their grand finale of dipping their toes in the "Ottawa Atlantic Ocean".

Now that they have reached their goal, Woods said they will try to switch up the goal of the club.

"Things get stale and people get tired of recording their kilometres. I have proposed that we organize an annual Symphony Senior Living community walk."

Woods said residents can train for the walk, and still record their distance if they wish to do so.

"We're going to put the challenge out to all of symphony residences."

Organizations: Calgary Stampede

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Calgary Regina Winnipeg Quebec Petrie Island Atlantic Provinces Atlantic Ocean

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