BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- When 69-year-old Brookfield resident Karen Hanlon says she is going for a walk, her family and friends know she'll be gone for a few hours.
Hanlon, a mother of three and grandmother of three, walks seven days a week, year-round. Her daily total comes to 11 miles — clocking nearly 80 miles a week. She uses a fit bit to track her mileage.
She walks for 90 minutes every morning at a local park, then walks throughout her day by walking her dogs and going grocery shopping. She then returns to the park in the late afternoon or early evening for another hour of walking.
One of her biggest motivators is the recorded books she listens to while walking. She goes through three books a week. "Right now, I'm listening to 'Golden Age,' the third book in the Jane Smiley trilogy," she said.
On her walks, she has encountered a host of animals such as chipmunks, field mice, rabbits, dogs, deer, and rabbits -- and plenty of people. "I'm familiar with all the regular dog walkers. I have learned who the dogs are and have met lovely people," she said.
On a daily basis, she greets Zoe, a little black pug; Belle, a brown retriever, and a pit bull named Takoda.
Hanlon's lengthy walks began over 30 years ago when her three children -- who are now 40, 42 and 44 -- were young and she would take them to the park to play. "It was something to do. There is a little pond there that they enjoyed," said Hanlon, who is a retired teaching assistant at Brookfield Public Schools.
Once her kids were all in school, she decided to continue walking at the park, for exercise.
"Some people spend their free time playing video games or watching TV," said her daughter, Amy Hanlon. "I think it's great that my mom has been enjoying this high mileage walking so much. She is the healthiest and happiest she has been in years at 69 years old. I run ultra-marathons and she often has higher mileage weeks than I do."
Hanlon, who also plays tennis and ping pong, said she has no plans on slowing down any time soon.
"The park is just a mile from my house. It's very peaceful. You get a variety of terrain. When it's hot, the woods provide shade," she said. "I really enjoy it."
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