Walk 'n' Roll program gets mobility-impaired older adults moving

Walk and Roll participants

Just take those old sneakers off the shelf. 

With Nova Scotia having the oldest Canadian population demographic, physiotherapist Wendy Lee Hamilton and her Senior LINCS team were inspired to create a program to get mobility-impaired older adults living in rural areas moving, by getting in some indoor recreational walking during the long winter months.

From there, Walk ’n Roll was born.

“I wanted to create a physical fitness improvement program where older adults living in communities feel like they fit in, and could celebrate their successes with their peers,” Hamilton said. 

The LINCS, or Living Independently with Community Supports, program started off as a pilot project directed and operated by physiotherapists, but with additional financial and community support, Walk ’n Roll has expanded to six locations across Annapolis and Kings counties, employing both seniors’ fitness leaders, physiotherapists and volunteers.

Walk ’n Roll is now run by numerous certified senior fitness leaders who lead a group of 60- to 99-year-olds in an hour of indoor warm-up and walking exercises using four-wheeled walkers.

“Four-wheeled walkers are our most under-prescribed fitness training tools,” Walters said. “One of our goals for this program is to end the stigma around using four-wheeled walkers, so our participants can feel more comfortable when using them in public.”

Russell Elliott, a 99-year-old participant of Walk ‘n’ Roll, has been faithful to the program and claims the experience is extremely rewarding. 

“After relying on a cane for many years to get around, my shoulder started to get sore and I found I was bending too far forward. I couldn’t go for walks outdoors anymore. When I tried a four-wheeled walker, my whole world opened up again,” he explained.

Thus far, Walk ’n Roll has been successful with breaking down the stigma associated with using walking aids for dozens of participants. Many participants are so comfortable with using walking aids now, that they’ve bought their own for daily use —impacting their quality of life significantly.

“My walker is a wrap-around corridor rail that goes with me — my security blanket,” Elliott said.

Partnering with local recreation departments, community facilities and Nova Scotia Health Authority, the Walk ’n Roll program is free of charge to participants across all locations. The program takes place in various settings, including community rinks, fitness centres, fire halls, church gyms and other community spaces.
Through the generosity of numerous funding sources, the program is also able to provide four-wheeled walkers that stay in the local facilities for use by participants who don’t have their own.

Hamilton has received support from the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada to enhance the Walk ’n Roll website, making adoption of the program available across the nation.

Find out more about Walk ’n Roll by clicking here.