2017-01-05 / Life in Leelanau

3 million steps give township walk-off win

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


NORMA NEVE, who participated in the Stepping It Up program offered by Leelanau County Senior Services, rounds the bend on the indoor walking track at Northport School last March. The program had the aim of getting seniors up and moving. NORMA NEVE, who participated in the Stepping It Up program offered by Leelanau County Senior Services, rounds the bend on the indoor walking track at Northport School last March. The program had the aim of getting seniors up and moving. The numbers are in and the walkoff winner of the Stepping It Up program is Leelanau Township.

Seniors there pounded the pavement, the treadmill, and the school gym for an amazing 3,198,272 steps in the Leelanau County Senior Services walking program that pitted township against township in the 10-month-long friendly competition.

That’s an average of 319,827 steps per month for seniors in the county’s northernmost township.

“I’m surprised and pleased,” said Norma Neve, who lives in Leelanau Township.

Second place went to Glen Arbor Township, with its average of 283,109 steps; Kasson Township took third with 279,131 steps.

County seniors were given pedometers to keep track of the number of steps they took each day. At the end of the month their total steps were called or mailed in to the Senior Services office, where program assistant Armanda Krantz recorded them.

The steps were added up by township to get a monthly average and at the end of the year, an overall average. The program started in February and ended in November.

Some participants were very regular and called their numbers in as soon as the month ended, Krantz said.

“They were excited when they found out they were improving on their steps each month,” Krantz said.

Neve did some of her walking at home on her treadmill and some at Northport School, where she takes advantage of an indoor walking track.

“Sometimes it’s only 10 times around the track, but I try to keep it up,” Neve said.

While 166 people had originally signed up, not everybody called in their numbers at the end of the month, Krantz said.

Some may have been walking daily and just not keeping track, she said.

And that’s OK. The idea was just to get them moving, Krantz said.

“I’d tell them, ‘Now that you’re on a routine, now that you’re up and walking, don’t you feel better?’” she said. “That’s the whole point.”

Nancy Begeman, Senior Services assistant director, said the program inspired some to go out and purchase activities trackers that are worn on the wrist.

“I think a few people went out and bought Fitbits after that, they liked it so much,” Begeman said. “It’s definitely motivational.”

Stepping It Up was not meant as a weight loss tool, it was just meant to help seniors stay healthy, Krantz said.

While 10,000 steps per day — which adds up to about five miles — is the general recommendation to stay active, experts say that might be too much for someone new to fitness, or not enough for someone who is used to walking every day.

Like Audrey Mockler, 72, who walks about three miles most days and has for almost four years.

Mockler lives in Bingham Township, which came in fifth place overall.

Mockler and her husband Tom meet a friend in Suttons Bay at about 6:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday. In the summer they walk through the village or on the trails around the village; in winter they use the upstairs walking track at Suttons Bay School.

“We kind of depend on each other,” Mockler said. “I feel so much better when I walk early in the morning. I have so much more ambition all day long. I look forward to walking and I feel better when I do.”

Mockler has always been active and participates in the National Cherry Festival 5K run every year. This summer she came in second in her age group.

“I try to get a little run in now and then, but it’s mostly walks,” Mockler said.

To find walking buddies and get your fitness on, meet up with the Walking Friends group that meets at 9 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Cedar tennis courts in nice weather and at the Solon Township Hall at other times.

The Women’s Hiking Group also meets at 10 a.m. every Friday at various places around the county. The group hikes, snowshoes or crosscountry skis, depending on the weather.

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