Cascade Manor Team Left Competitors in the Dust
Sitting too much? Come to Eugene, Oregon. Some perennial perambulators might inspire you to move more. 

Twenty-three residents at Cascade Manor, a continuing care retirement community, collectively took more than one million steps—exceeding 484 miles—in June this year. 

That’s right. More than a million steps in one month. To track their progress, the team used a shared Fitbit, a small digital device that tracks, among other things, the number of steps made by the person wearing it. 

Afterward, the team celebrated their win of this year’s PRS multi-community Fitbit Challenge. 

But the Cascade Manor team didn’t just win. Their results far exceeded those of the winner from the previous two years—and with only three weeks’ worth of steps recorded! 

“Our community Fitbit died on the 22nd day,” explained one of the team’s leaders, Barbara Ohlsen (wearing dark pink in the middle of the photo above). The self-admitted “resident nag” and member of Cascade Manor’s Fitness Committee urged others to keep going as staff tried to figure out, unsuccessfully, how to revive the device. 

Barbara and her husband, Stan Hultgren (in yellow, back row), already walk in Eugene’s Amazon Park daily. Barbara regularly nudged residents who use the community’s treadmills or fitness classes to make sure they took their turns wearing the Fitbit, too. 

“We also recruited some residents who regularly walk the neighborhoods around Cascade Manor,” said Barbara. “To be honest, we might not have won without new resident Frank Moss, who’s always out walking his dog, Rosie.”

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step…or 50,000 

To help motivate residents, a personal trainer at Cascade Manor, Jeff Robbins (far left), set the bar high by renaming the event to “The PRS 1.5 Million Step Fitbit Challenge.” The team of residents would need to record a total of 50,000 steps every day in order to stay on track. 

It’s possible they reached 1.2 million steps during the Fitbit-less final week, nearly double what a sister community racked up last year. “There were zero down days,” said Jeff. 

All those steps help prevent the damaging effects of a sedentary life, which can include, according to the Mayo Clinic, obesity and metabolic problems. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. 

Some residents walked 15 minutes a day while others logged in 5 or 6 miles daily, all adding up to the win. Athletic commitment in Eugene, also known as “Track Town USA,” isn’t limited to the young folks on the University of Oregon campus a few miles away.

UPDATE: KMTR TV in Eugene spotlighted several residents in an August 18 newscast.

The PRS challenge 

Nine PRS communities from four states participated in this year’s challenge. Altogether, the resident teams walked nearly five million steps this June—2,341 miles. That’s almost a round trip between Madison, Wisconsin, and Fort Worth, Texas, homes to two of the participating teams. 

The PRS Fitbit Challenge was conceived in 2015 by the wellness director for Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley Manor, Dean MacInnis, as a fun way to encourage exercise through a combination of teamwork and competition. Every June, residents at each community take turns wearing a shared Fitbit device and collectively compete against teams at other PRS communities. 

Holladay Park Plaza in Portland, Oregon, won the challenge by a landslide the first year. Its well-organized team stepped more than 466,000 times for a cumulative 228 miles, far exceeding its competitors. In 2016, HPP residents won again, taking nearly 679,000 steps, which roughly equals 332 miles. This year, HPP residents made more than 792,000 steps (377 miles), which was actually surpassed by two other competitors besides Cascade Manor: University Retirement Community in Davis, California, with more than 900,000 steps (432 miles), and fellow Portland community Mirabella, with nearly 825,000 steps (402 miles). 

Any bets on who will win the PRS Fitbit Challenge next year? The team at Cascade Manor will be tough to beat, especially since Barbara is hoping her community will buy the new water-resistant Fitbit Flex 2, which tracks swimming movement. She swims every week anyway….