Friendship and fitness have two major things in common: Both are necessary for living your best life, and both require some work to be of the highest quality.

For decades, organized walking groups have proven effective in promoting both improved fitness and strengthened interpersonal bonds via regular meet-ups at local parks, trails and neighborhoods around the country; and not only have these gatherings been beneficial, they’ve also proven somewhat intoxicating.

“I think we all feel so much better after a walk,” says Marian Roach, lead organizer of the Camellia Rose Steppers, the 30-plus member walking group of the Atlanta-based Camellia Rose Chapter of The Links, Inc., a national organization of Black women dedicated to service and friendship. 

Through their “Walk for Healthy Living: 75 Million Step Challenge” and their annual Walk-A-Thon, The Links encourages its members to step in the name of fellowship and service while reaping the benefits of regular brisk walking – which include improved cardiovascular fitness, reduced stress, increased energy, a strengthened immune system and several other goodies, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The “75 Million Step Challenge” tasks members with taking 5000 steps daily, and the Steppers have had no problem meeting and exceeding that quota.

“As a chapter we have done over 52 million steps – which is more than a trip around the equator – so we’re very excited about that,” Marian boasts.

And in case you’re wondering: 52 million steps is about 27,152 miles, while one trip around the equator is 24,901 miles, so she ain’t lyin’.

They’ve practically walked around the world and have enjoyed taking every step – together.

“It has been a wonderful experience,” Marian says. “Not just to walk for our health, but also for the friendships that happen as we’re walking the trails.”