On August 15, the Trailblazers walking club at Sedgebrook Senior Living Community in Lincolnshire, IL, tackled the first of 12 trails in Lake County Forest Preserves’ “Hike Lake County Challenge.” If they walk seven of the trails before November 30, the Trailblazers will receive a commemorative shield for their walking sticks. A medal, however, is just the icing on the cake for these active seniors. “I was out on Buffalo Creek [the first of the trail challenges] recently, and I’ve never seen the prairie flowers look so beautiful,” said Trailblazer Don Frantom, a lifelong outdoorsman and self-proclaimed country boy.
“I also saw a baby doe bounding across the prairie; you never know when you’ll get a surprise like that.” Frantom’s knowledge of the Lake County trails has been invaluable to the Trailblazers group, particularly its founder, Sedgebrook fitness specialist Jackie Nitsche. “Because Jackie is such a sweetheart and I think of her as a surrogate daughter, I agreed to investigate trail hikes that extend the boundaries of the Sedgebrook property and take at least an hour to walk,” said Frantom.
For her part, Nitsche immediately saw the potential for a walking club when she began working at picturesque Sedgebrook a year and a half ago. “I realized we’re on the Des Plaines River Trail and that people might want to veer off, but might also be afraid to.” Nitsche generated an interest survey among Sedgebrook residents and initially received over 30 responses. The walkers’ distances have significantly increased. Twice per week, on Mondays and Thursdays, the Sedgebrook Trailblazers walk from two to four miles, often in areas to which they are driven by shuttle bus. Many take walks on their own each week as well.
Carol Nee, a member of the Trailblazers since its inception, tries to walk at least 30 minutes a day. “It’s great physically, emotionally and intellectually,” said the senior who is very aware of the “cognitive resources” walking provides. “Walking stimulates chemicals in the brain and helps brain cells grow.” In addition to her ventures with the Trailblazers, Nee takes an evening walk around the pond by her apartment. “Walking calms me down after the day, and the grounds here are just delightful.” Nee’s walking buddies have become her fellows in other Sedgebrook activities as well. “There are many things we do together,” said Nee, citing knitting, book group, computer training, and Sedgebrook’s thrice-weekly “Rise and Stride” cardiovascular resistance training class, also led by Jackie Nitsche.
While some of the Trailblazers walk further or more often than others, Nitsche is equally proud of them all. “They’ve come a long way. Whether it is a new hobby, or something they enjoyed in the past, I like to have them engage in activities that they take pleasure in. That lets me know I am doing what I was meant to do,” said the fitness pro who discovered her true calling when the one thing that relieved her struggle with depression was physical activity. “It’s never too late to start an exercise program. A few small steps eventually turn into longer, stronger ones.”
Sedgebrook is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Five-star rated Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is located on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Sedgebrook is owned by Senior Care Development LLC and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For additional information visit www.welcometosedgebrook.com or call 847-901-3319.