83-year-old Dayton woman walks miles a day at home, while calling friends and family

At 83 years old, Dayton resident Wanda Lacy has taken social distancing seriously, though her version of serious is not to be confused with boring.

“I’m the … walker of the neighborhood,” Lacy said. “Now I’m the home walker.”

In her modest 600-square-foot home in Dayton’s South Park neighborhood, Lacy averages between 7,000 and 11,000 steps per day. By walking back and forth — and back and forth — between her kitchen and bedroom, she logs almost five miles most days while staying inside her home.

“Since I got the Fitbit for Christmas and started paying attention to it, I thought, ‘Oh wow, I’m still doing pretty good!’” Lacy said. “I didn’t realize I walked that much.”

Lacy could be a model for living life in isolation while staying positive.

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“Just being able to open up my doors and being out in my yard, that makes me feel good,” Lacy said. “And seeing life around me. I miss very much not being able to go to the Carolinas to see my children and grandchildren.”

The miles sometimes go by unnoticed as Lacy is almost always talking to friends and family on the phone when on a “walk” through her home. When it’s nice outside, Lacy can be almost guaranteed to be found walking and talking, back and forth, in her yard that matches the home’s modest size.

On Thursday when a Dayton Daily News reporter sat with Lacy to hear about her walking habits, three friends called in a 30-minute window. Lacy’s phone plays “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters for incoming calls so it’s hard to miss. Her “closest girlfriends” each have their own special ring tone.

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A social butterfly, Lacy has managed to keep close connections and relationships through quarantine — all while getting more steps in per day than many people years younger.

“It can have a negative impact on certain people but I just don’t think it’s affected me that way,” Lacy said. “I keep myself entertained. I like to move my stuff around and that makes me feel like I’m getting something new.”

If not for the coronavirus pandemic, Lacy would be walking to Riverscape MetroPark, line dancing with friends, playing cards at the Dayton Kroc Center, attending a University of Dayton baseball game or just about anything else besides sitting down.

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“I guess I’m just not a sitter,” Lacy said. “I’m a multitasker-type person. I’m always moving my little knick-knack stuff around, that’s my thing. I’m a sweeper, too, so I’m always sweeping up the floor.”

The first walk of the day usually happens as soon as Lacy wakes up, though quarantine has relaxed a couple of her morning routines.

“I should get back in the habit of getting up and getting dressed before anything, though,” Lacy said. “I always said I didn’t want to be one of those old women that didn’t get up and get dressed all day, but I enjoy some of those days (when I don’t get dressed). Usually I put my makeup on, but now I just forget about my makeup — I do put my lipstick on, I got to have my lipstick on.”

Line dancing might have to wait for a few more months, but Lacy will be too busy walking and calling to check on friends and neighbors to mind.

“I want to have lipstick in my casket, and a broom and mirrors — (and a casket) on rollers so I can move it around.”

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