By Susan Shinn
Archie and Betty Yates only look like they’re walking up and down their driveway every day.
Actually, they’re somewhere in New Mexico.
Let me explain.
Archie and Betty are charter members of the Walkabouts program at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.
The program began in 2005, when participants walked the distance across North Carolina.
(That’s 543 miles, for those of you keeping count.)
They had so much fun that they decided to keep on going.
Now the Walkabouts are walking across the country.
(That’s 9,182 miles. Whew!)
Participants fill out monthly logs ó which includes miles and/or steps, along with total days they walked. Then Rufty-Holmes staff members chart their progress on a bulletin board.
At last count, Archie and Betty were up to about 3,000 miles ó which, as we said before, puts them somewhere in New Mexico.
The beauty of the program, says staff member Susan Musselman, is that just about everyone can walk ó and walk at their own pace.
Musselman is proud of the program’s retention rate.
Of the 106 walkers who started in the Walkabouts program in 2005, 47 are still walking.
Today, the program has 131 walkers.
About half of those walkers gathered last month for a brunch. Participants have the chance to get together as a group twice a year to celebrate their achievements.
“Not everybody is going to come to everything,” Musselman admitted. “Some people just want to walk.”
(Although those folks sure missed a treat by not attending that bounteous brunch. Yum!)
Along with promoting good health, the program provides incentives.
Along with attending the get-togethers, participants have the chance to win a Harris-Teeter gift card each month if they turn their logs in on time.
Charter members who attended the brunch got to pick out a whistle or a plastic water bottle for their efforts.
Some Walkabouts walk together. Some walk separately. Some walk indoors. Some walk outdoors. Some walk at the mall. The group took a van over to Dan Nicholas Park to walk last fall.
And Archie and Betty walk on their driveway.
“I’ve walked for years,” Betty said. “I talked him into it. I said, ‘Let’s sign up. It’ll be fun.’
“You have to make a special effort.”
The pair walks every day unless it’s pouring down rain, she said.
Betty has a pedometer and they aim for 10,000 steps a day ó that’s 5 miles.
Archie said he can tell a real difference if he doesn’t get to walk for a day or two.
“I don’t feel as good and I’m not as flexible,” he said.
Others, too, walk to feel better.
William and Beatrice Holland attended their first brunch last month.
“It’s a nice way to meet people,” Beatrice said.
William was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and his doctor suggested walking.
The Hollands live close by and decided to join the senior center. William said he was looking forward to starting the walking program.
Bea Hall walks at the Y and on a treadmill. She also takes yoga and oxybreathing classes.
“I travel a lot,” she said. “When I’m on a trip, I can usually outdo the teenagers.”
“It’s a very good program,” Esther Mobley said of the Walkabouts.
She likes getting out and seeing people she knows when she walks at the mall or the Y.
“When I don’t walk, I’m stiff as a board,” she said. “I feel good about myself when I walk ó mentally and physically.”
“I love it,” Alice Owens said. “My neighbor and I walk in our neighborhood.”
She and Ann Alessandrini encourage one another, she said.
So do Archie and Betty. If they’re not walking, they’re working in the yard together or spending most of the summers together out on their screened porch.
Their bonus room is Betty’s sewing room, and if she’s up there, Archie is there too, messing with his puzzles ó both two-dimensional and three-dimensional.
The couple will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary on June 11.
“We hang together pretty good,” Archie said.
Especially when they’re walking up and down the driveway.
For more information on the Walkabouts program, call Rufty-Holmes Senior Center at 704-633-7862.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.