You might think that Detroit is just for hipsters, Millennials and the like. The DMC RiverWalkers will change your opinion.
The program, sponsored in part by the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), has grown exponentially in the past eight years. This summer, more than 1,200 seniors will walk by the water in this popular program.
The goal of DMC RiverWalkers is to bring people over the age of 60 together. It is a group of people who want to get fit and have fun. It’s free. It encourages wellness for seniors. It takes place next to one of the most beautiful views in Detroit. That’s kinda great.
The program starts at Rivard Plaza (1340 Atwater Street) every Tuesday and Thursday from June through August. The gang skips July 2 and days with inclement weather, natch. Walking and registration begin at 8:30 a.m. One hour of walking is followed by a 9:30 fitness class or learning opportunity.
“We offer seniors wellness opportunities and socializing in a beautiful setting,” said Ruth Kremer, Corporate Director of Marketing and Integrated Communications at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, who runs the program. “Our RiverWalkers seem to love the program.”
DMC RiverWalkers is sponsored by DMC, Detroit Receiving Hospital, The Rosa Parks Geriatric Center and The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. There’s good reason why so many healthcare groups are behind this group. Half of all seniors have high blood pressure, but don’t know it.
“That’s why high blood pressure is known as the silent killer,” explained Dr. Jennifer Mendez, an award-winning gerontologist at Wayne State University School of Medicine. “Walking is the best exercise to reduce cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure.”
Mendez supervises a team of medical student volunteers who take blood pressure checks at the RiverWalkers event. “It’s a huge health benefit to the seniors.”
The program began in 2008 with a total of 225 walkers. Last year , opening day drew a record 500 walkers. This year, it topping 920 walkers. “The educational component of the program has also grown to include physical therapists, nurse practitioners, nurse educators and doctors, all designed to amplify wellness opportunities and increase our seniors’ quality of life,” said Kremer.
With increased attendance, Detroit Receiving Hospital worked with Chene Park to use their parking lot for overflow parking. They provide round-trip shuttle buses every five minutes from Chene Park to Rivard Plaza and a security guard to remind seniors to remove their cars by 11 a.m.
Detroiters Vera Morris, 77, Audrinee Smith, 68, and Barbara Young, 66, agree. “The socialization is so good, we’re all the same age,” said Smith. The three looked like old friends chatting and enjoying refreshments. “We just met this morning.”
To register, come to Rivard Plaza and sign up for the program. Enjoy informal classes, wellness demonstrations, blood pressure checks, fitness exercises and refreshments. Incentive gifts are given to those who walk three or more times a month. Everyone who signs up gets a t-shirt and a “welcome gift” such as a pedometer.
Who: DMC RiverWalkers
Where: Rivard Plaza, 1340 Atwater Street, Detroit
What: Walking: 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.; Fitness activity: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
When: Every Tuesday and Thursday June thru August, (except July 2, and inclement weather). 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Questions: (888) DMC-2500 (888-362-2500). Unsure about the weather? Call RiverWalkers hotline after 6:15 a.m. on walk days: 313.745.8260