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Poker Walk

Fitness is a big part of any activities calendar in a retirement community. Fitness programs can, and should, appear with many different titles and be held in many different locations, but the main element is that residents get moving!

One of the activities that we have done on an annual basis for the past eight years is called a Poker Walk. It was derived from an annual motorcycle fund raiser event that takes place in our area's greater community. It is a program that is simple to put together and fun for the residents.

First, plan your route for your walkers. Ours is just about a mile long and circles our campus. Then plan where your five stations will be and place a table and chair or two at each location, along with a deck of playing cards and a cooler with small individual bottles of water in in. Large print cards work better if you have them, but it is not necessary.

You will need to create a grid that has a five rows (one for each station) and four columns, one for each type of suite in the deck of cards. (hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds) Make sure there is a place for the resident's name at the top. You will get two grids on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.

The day of your event, you would have a reception table with the grid available for each participant. They "register" by taking the paper and writing their name on the top of it, and then taking it along with them on the walk. We decorate the tables with balloons and/or a card theme. (If you need to have them sign up ahead of time to know how many will attend, do so, but their will be extras joining you when they see what is happening.)

Residents walking are reminded before they leave that this is not a race and are encouraged to enjoy the walk, the sights along the way and the fellowship of their friends and neighbors. When a resident gets to a table, they draw a card and the number (2-10) or letter (J, Q, K or A) is written under the appropriate column. They will repeat this at each table. I will say that it is easier to spread the cards out on the table (if there is not breeze) and let more than one person pick a card at the same time. This helps keep the residents moving and not standing in line for their turn at the table. This is where a second person helps so they can write the results down as the first person manages the card draws. When then get finished with the route, they bring their paper back to the registration table to get reviewed. The best poker hand wins. 

We have a nurse going around on a golf cart to make sure that everyone is alright. If someone is not able to walk the whole thing, she picks them up and takes them to the rest of the tables on the route. Some residents have even gone from the first table to the last table and just drawn all their cards at the last table. We really encourage this to be a walking event, but we do not turn away someone in a scooter or other kind of aid.

Refreshments should be available once the group finishes. Also, in order to allow time to tally the results, you might consider a health fair or some other casual interactive program where the residents can visit at different times (since not everyone will be there at the same time).

p.s. Check out my other articles regarding fitness for seniors by going to the link at the top left labeled Fitness.

Keep 'Em Going!

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