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WALKING (AND TALKING)

Picture this: It’s a cool, crisp September morning, and you’re about to engage in a favorite wake-up activity – a brisk walk through the neighborhood. Along the way, you wave to the neighbors, hear familiar birdcalls, and see a hint of fall color on the trees. Your mind clear, you’re ready to face another day. Sound familiar? Walking is a favorite form of physical activity, especially among older adults. It’s even more enjoyable to walk with a partner and catch up on the latest news. Walking and talking – they seem to go together. Here are some activities that will trigger a few good memories about this enjoyable experience.

  • Naturalist Henry David Thoreau once stated: “An early morning walk is a blessing the whole day.” Ask: Do you enjoy walking? Did you walk for fitness every day? What was your favorite time of the day to take a stroll? How did walking benefit you? Did you have a walking partner? What’s the longest you’ve ever walked?
  • Ask participants to name some synonyms for walking – stroll, meander, saunter, trek. For a bit of fun, ask for a volunteer to demonstrate each form of walking. Example: Show us how to stroll through a beautiful garden or saunter through the mall.
  • Sing or listen to some “walk” songs, like “I Walk the Line,” “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Winter Wonderland,” “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” “Tipetoe Through the Tulips,” or “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
  • Reminisce about nature walking tours and venture to some of the world’s most beautiful places – all from the comfort of your chair.
  • Ask your group to share memories of walking for charity. Ask: Did you ever participate in a walk-a-thon for charity, like the March of Dimes, CROP, or Relay for Life? Whose fundraiser was it? How long did you walk? How much money did you raise?
  • Display a pair of bronzed baby shoes (often a family heirloom). Ask participants to reminisce about children/grandchildren taking their first steps.
  • Show a colorful photo of children running barefoot through the grass. Challenge your group to describe the experience as vividly as possible (cool grass, warm day, dirt between toes, etc.).
  • Do some gentle arm swing exercises while walking in place.
  • Read Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken.” Ask participants to talk about choices in life and the road less traveled.
  • Show a vintage wedding photograph of a father-daughter walking down the aisle. Ask one of the men in the group to share his thoughts on the ritual.
  • Read some idioms on walking and ask group members to reflect on them. Examples: “walk a mile in some else’s shoes,” “walk on eggshells,” “walking on thin ice,” “give someone walking papers,” “walk on cloud nine”
  • Invite a high school marching band director to demonstrate a special form of walking – marching. If your group is able, simulate a marching band with a mini-route around the room to the tune of “76 Trombones.”
  • Display props related to walking and hiking: walking shoes, pedometer, backpack, sunglasses, hiking shoes, socks, reflective vest, and water bottle.
  • Share some funny stories about walking a pet dog. Ask: Did your family have a pet dog? What kind? Who took the responsibility of walking the dog each day? Did you encounter other pets often?
  • Name some jobs that require a lot of walking, like mail carrier, waitress, pet sitter, park ranger. Ask: Did you ever have a job that required lots of standing and/or walking? How did you handle being on your feet all day?

WALKING QUIZ

  1. What’s the first line of the song “Winter Wonderland”? “Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin’
  2. According to the idiom, what kinds of papers are given to someone who is fired from his job? Walking papers
  3. Who recorded the popular 1930s jazz rendition of the song “When the Saints Come Marching In”? Louis Armstrong
  4. If you walk in a 5-K event, about how many miles will you walk? 3.2 miles
  5. What does a pedometer measure? The number of steps/miles you walk
  6. In the 1950 movie Father of the Bride, who played the role of the harried father who walks the young bride (Elizabeth Taylor) down the aisle? Spencer Tracy
  7. The popular advertising slogan “I’d walk a mile for a Camel” refers to what product? Cigarettes
  8. If you walked the Appalachian Trail from north to south, in which states would you start and finish? Maine and Georgia
  9. It’s a seven-letter word meaning to wander about with no fixed direction. Meander
  10. What’s the name of the famous charity walk for the American Cancer Society? Relay for Life

“WALKING (AND TALKING)” written by Sue Hansen. © 2009 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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