By Susan Saldibar

From October 1st-7th Aegis Therapies (a Senior Living Foresight partner) will conduct its 11th year of WALK!, a week-long celebration of health and wellness packed full of free events and activities for individuals and organizations. WALK! is held at hundreds of locations and settings across the country. Each year, Aegis schedules WALK! to correspond with the International Council on Active Aging’s Active Aging Week. 

They have created a website to house a repository of videos, audios, and checklists for all those who want to organize some activities at their companies or senior living communities. It even has a “Team Leader Guide” to provide step-by-step tips for making your WALK! week a success. 

What I personally like so much about this program is that it’s not just about moving your arms and legs. It’s not just about the physical benefits of walking. The program digs deeper to create activities that stimulate intellectual and emotional wellness. In fact, it has suggested activities to cover each of the 7 dimensions of wellness. Here is how the WALK! program approaches each area:

    1. Physical Wellness: Of course, a big part of wellness is physical awareness. Options can include but are not limited to indoor or outdoor walk or group exercise (yoga, toning, boxing, tai chi, etc.).
    2. Intellectual Wellness: Take a turn at creative and stimulating mental activities including trivia questions, sudoku puzzles, and brain teasers.
    3. Environmental Wellness: Today, more than ever, the health of our environment can be considered a key focus for wellness. How about starting a simple outdoor garden and moving more of your activities outdoor, weather permitting?
    4. Emotional Wellness: The guide includes exercises for stress relief including progressive muscle relaxation and self-massage.
    5. Spiritual Wellness: Merge the physical realm of wellness with the spiritual and complete a 15-minute guided meditation and deep breathing exercise techniques.
    6. Occupational Wellness: The guide encourages you to “Name the Occupation” by matching famous people with their occupation and discuss favorite activities associated with each dimension of wellness.
    7. Social Wellness: On this day, you will be encouraged to focus on the importance of socializing with others. Socializing involves personal interactions, having meaningful relationships, respecting yourself and others, and creating a support system that includes family, friends, and caregivers.

I’ve just scraped the surface here. There is much more to this program that you need to know about to effectively bring it through your doors. I asked Kathryn Abrahamson, Director of Corporate Communications for Aegis, how senior living community operators can get involved. It turns out that it’s pretty easy. All you have to do is go to where you’ll find everything you need to get started. 

Kathryn urges senior living communities to think beyond a one-week program and look for ways to incorporate the various activities and wellness principles all year long. “The purpose of WALK! is to, not only get people thinking holistically about health, but to give them tools they can use going forward,” Kathryn says. “Yes, WALK! is a week-long event, but the real goal should be life-long!” 

For more information about Aegis Therapies, please visit their website.