#WellnessWeds: Walker Overcomes Physical Disability, Bad Weather to Keep Moving

Rebecca Olds

Exercising in the winter can be challenging, especially if you live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The snow, ice and bitter cold keep many people from venturing out during the coldest months, but it doesn’t stop U.P. resident Rebecca Olds. In fact, Olds has a prosthetic leg but still manages to exercise twice a week. She drives 15 minutes to the Superior Dome in Marquette and does six laps around the inside of the Dome — three each walking and rolling in her wheelchair.

Olds, who is a cancer survivor, was forced to have her right leg amputated in 2005 after she encountered circulation issues following a surgery. She spent a year in a hospital bed in her home before being fitted for her prosthetic. Thanks to physical therapy, she was able to walk again.

According to Olds, the indoor environment at the dome is a critical part of her efforts to stay healthy. The dome not only provides a flat, non-slippery surface for all types of walkers and runners, but the indoor temperature also makes it easier for people to get in and stay active.

In a recent interview with the Mining Journal in Marquette, she said, “This is the perfect place to walk. It’s a smooth, flat surface.”

She continues her walking routine, joining hundreds of other users who circle the dome each week. Northern Michigan University, Marquette General Hospital and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan split the $20,000 cost of keeping the dome open free of charge for winter walkers.

Since starting the free walking program, the average number of walkers in the winter months has increased from 120 to 350.  The dome is open to walkers and joggers Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Do you have challenges that make it difficult to exercise? How do you stay motivated to exercise, especially during the winter months? Share your story!

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