Stepping into health

By Kirstin Grace-SimonsNovember 9, 2021

Audra Crans-Henderson, and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee administrator in the Department of Clinical Investigation, was the top stepper in the 5th Annual Summer Step Challenge at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Crans-Henderson averaged 29,000 steps per day, handily surpassing the 20,000+ step threshold set for the top category for individuals. (Photo Credit: Kirstin Grace-Simons) VIEW ORIGINAL

MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – Madigan’s Wellness Committee is keen on promoting every opportunity for staff to take charge of their health and wellness. Madigan’s step challenge provides the perfect chance to highlight such experiences.

One aspect of the pandemic that has been commonly mentioned is the tendency many people have had toward weight gain. As people have kept closer to home, the opportunities for movement have likely been fewer than normal.

The opposite has been the case for some people. Take Audra Crans-Henderson, for example.

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee administrator in the Department of Clinical Investigation started her walking mission as physical therapy to address health concerns and found it aided boredom from being closed in during the pandemic.

A resident of Thurston County, she and her husband started walking a horse trail that is within a neighborhood adjacent to her own. Her community has an agreement with that one for communal use of the miles of trails that are used by equestrians, bicyclists and walkers.

She also made use of the Chehalis Western Trail, which is also close to her home. That trail stretches over 20 miles from Rainier near the Deschutes River, in southwestern Thurston County, to the Woodard Bay Natural Resources Conservation Area in the northeastern area of the county.

Over the course of the six-week challenge, Crans-Henderson averaged over 29,000 steps each day of the 5th Annual Summer Step Challenge. By general calculations not based on a particular individual’s step length that amounts to nearly 15 miles. During the pandemic, she has lost 50 pounds and found more enthusiasm for promoting her own health.

That is not the only benefit she has found in her walking, though.

Getting out and moving about her community has allowed Crans-Henderson to get to know her neighbors better. Last year, they even had a Christmas cookie exchange.

Though this challenge had the advantage of summer weather that is no guarantee that one will stay dry. Crans-Henderson checked Doppler radar for breaks in the rain on wet days.

With the weather growing sloppier she does not expect it to deter her from continuing her walking. She’ll still check the radar, but has her rain gear handy too.

The periodic step challenge has three individual categories – 10,000, 15,000 and over 20,000 steps each day, as well as a team category for staff within one section where it’s measured simply by which team racks up the highest average steps per day.

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