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Group building friendships, and better health, with every step

Power walkersEvery day, rain or shine, there's a hearty group of walkers who meet outside the loading dock at the Legacy System Office in Northwest Portland at 11:30 a.m. The group welcomes new members, but don't be late, they won't wait for you.

The group walks at a swift pace and often goes up into Forest Park to the Rose Garden and back in just about an hour. 

But it is more than just a good workout. The walkers enjoy keeping an eye on home remodels in the beautiful Northwest neighborhoods they stroll through. They've seen bunnies, parties, film crews, tourists and the occasional "weird person." They sometimes walk down to the Waterfront or across the Vista Bridge. They even, on occasion, take an extra half hour to walk to the Pittock Mansion, especially on summer days.

They only cancel if there's a safety issue, like ice on the ground, but otherwise, it is a daily habit for the core group. Once they walked even in the snow, making loops around the System Office.

Renee Gillenwater has been walking for 15 years. Over the years, others have come and gone, but she's stuck with it. Gillenwater enjoys the community that has been built, step-by-step.

"I like just getting outside in the middle of the day rain or shine, it doesn't matter –– it is fresh air –– (we) get away from sitting at the desk all day long. And then, (it's) just the friendships you develop. We know more about each other's personal lives than we would, because one of our rules is don't talk work more than five minutes."

"We know more about each other's personal lives than we would, because one of our rules is don't talk work more than five minutes," -- Renee Gillenwater 

Kelly Foreman has been walking for eight years. She enjoys getting outside with her coworkers and learning more about them – and sharing with them. 

Tony Benitz joined the group two years ago.

Legacy lunch power walkers

The other walkers joke that they had to vet him for five years first. He enjoys the beauty of the outdoors, "It is really nice to get out and clear your brain. We live in a beautiful area. Everyone should do it."

Sandee Martin says she's looking at the long-term benefits of walking, "I've done this for four and a half years. I originally did this to lose some weight –– which I did –– but I do it now because I like the community and I want to maintain my healthy lifestyle, because when I'm 100, I don't want to be walking around slow."

The group has logged thousands of miles over the years and more than a few laughs along the way.

Would you like to share your healthy habits in social media with us? Try these hash tags: #HealthySelfie and #LivingMyLegacy.