‘Got to keep moving’

Phyllis Clark has strong heart thanks to feet and deeds

Created date

December 22nd, 2009


Each morning before breakfast, Phyllis Clark can be found logging miles on a treadmill in the Wind Crest fitness center. For Clark, the treadmill represents her philosophy about life. You ve got to keep moving, the sprightly 92-year-old says. Even for those who haven t laced up their running shoes lately, Clark says it s never to late to begin. I didn t start running until I was in my sixties, she says. I wanted to do something better for my health. So I started running a little each day and worked my way up. Soon, I was doing at least a 5K (3.1 miles) in the morning. Then it seemed about every weekend, my husband and I would do a local race. The Cherry Creek race, the BolderBOULDER 10K we did them all. Clark doesn t run in formal races anymore, but her love still shows through her feet. Here at Wind Crest, I can even run when it s cold or snowy outside. I just go to the fitness center, she says. I like to do a half mile or so each morning, just to get the blood flowing. For people who are considering ringing in 2010 in a healthier way, the best thing you can do is get out and move, says Clark. When I run, it s a personal challenge to see how much I can do. To this day, I think it s the reason I ve been fortunate to stay so healthy.

Mental uplift

In addition to the physical side, if you can do things that you find mentally challenging or stimulating, it has a positive effect, says Wind Crest s Director of Resident Life Jeff Watson. After her morning jaunt in the fitness center, Clark exercises her mind at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Denver each Wednesday, volunteering to help first- and second-graders learn to read. It was a logical extension for Clark, who has a master s degree in education. I received a scholarship for college but it ended up falling through due to the Depression, she says. Not one to let a challenge hold her back, she eventually made her way to college, receiving her bachelor s degree in 1953 and her master s in 1958. Working with children was always something that came naturally for me, so it s nice to be able to still do that. At St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, she listens to students read and helps if they have any trouble. I started a couple years ago. It s a great way to help the community and connect with these young children.

Reaching out to others

Watson says he routinely helps residents find that perfect volunteer activity. You have to know yourself, he says. The key is finding what you love and are good at, whether it s teaching, a craft, animals, whatever. Then find a place that is involved with those things that can use a little help. We have residents who are accountants that do taxes for nonprofits, animal lovers volunteering at the local Humane Society, and carpenters who are lending their services to friends and neighbors on campus. Our residents have a wealth of experience in a variety of fields so it s natural that they are a real asset to the community. And it s amazing the benefits that helping others can have on your own well-being. While our country s economic climate last year was less than sunny, Americans found positive (and free!) ways to make a difference, just like Wind Crest s Phyllis Clark did.

Free feel-good activities

People were hitting the road with their feet as running became more popular. The total running population increased 18.2%, according to the National Sporting Goods Association in its State of the Sport 2009 report. Approximately 1 million more people volunteered (an increase of .2%), says the Corporation for National & Community Service. In its annual report, Volunteering in America, it ranked Denver 9th among U.S. cities in its rate of volunteerism.