Every year around this time, surveys are conducted determine the most popular New Year’s resolutions. For quite a while now the most popular response is to “lead a healthier life” which typically includes getting more exercise and/or losing weight.
For local Delawareans, there is a solution. The hiking group Easy Striders describes itself as “like-minded individuals joined together to hike and enjoy the beauty and outdoors of southern Delaware. There is a healthy dose of socializing too. About 130 people actively participate.
Easy Striders hikes are more like fast walks through various state and regional parks”. The group is affiliated with the Delaware Senior Olympics and its Walk Delaware program that focuses on the so-called Senior Group Challenge.
Pete Gisler, started Easy Striders in 2006. He was named Senior Group Challenge Volunteer of the Year for 2021 and the group itself recently received the award Outstanding Participant for 2022.
Gisler organizes two Sunday hikes per month from October through April. Typically, anywhere from 50 to 60 people participate. The Sunday before Christmas the group hiked the Great Dune at Henlopen State Park and, afterwards, celebrated the holidays with a Christmas party at the Wheelhouse in Lewes. Group members participate together in other activities as well including biking, tennis, pickleball, kayaking and disk golf. Gisler even organizes dart throwing evenings at the Riverside Grill near Long Neck.
Gisler knows the value of regular exercise and recreation having run a New Jersey sporting goods store during his career. He also was a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America.
“Everyone is welcome,” he says about Easy Striders but he strongly urges those 50 and over to join so they can opt to participate in the Delaware Senior Olympics. Not all Easy Striders participate in Walk Delaware but the group has been ranked #1 in the state for about 12 years running.
Hiking/brisk walking can lower your risk of heart disease, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boost bone density (walking is a weight-bearing exercise), build strength in glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs and strengthen your core.
Thousands of Senior Delawareans have signed up for Walk Delaware aside from those affiliated with Easy Striders. Simply log onto the Walk Delaware web page web site. The challenge is to walk a distance equal to the combined length and width of Delaware which is 131 Miles in one year’s time.
People join the program by completing a registration card. At that, time they would decide if they wanted to walk the distance or to optionally, run, bike or swim equivalent distances. There are 3 certificate levels. The distances, to be completed in a 12-month period, for each certificate level.
Delaware Senior Olympics operates as a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. It was founded in 1991 under the sponsorship of Sussex County Senior Services and the first games were held in May 1992.
Since then, Delaware has held annual games beginning in August through October and has seen phenomenal growth. In 1993, we had 160 athletes who competed in 11 sports. During our last qualifying year, we had 1100 athletes competing in 29 sports, and 1200 members.
For further information about Easy Striders, contact Peter Gisler at email@example.com
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.