As the unsung champion of aging well, walking is the exercise world’s quiet achiever. It’s a low-impact activity that packs a high-impact punch and is an incredibly versatile way for seniors to step up their health and wellness.
Regular walking is a beneficial form of cardiovascular exercise that can help older adults live longer and boost their quality of life. That makes it one of the best ways for adults aged 65 and older to meet the World Health Organization’s recommendation of engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly exercise.
Walking is easy on the joints, requires no special equipment, can be done anywhere and offers a wide range of benefits. Plus, it’s a great way to explore new places and spend time with friends and family while still being active and independent. Safe walking every day can help you:
- Pump up your heart power: Walking can enhance heart health, decrease blood pressure, and lower heart disease and stroke risk.
- Give chronic conditions the boot: Walking helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Flex those muscles: Walking builds muscle strength in the legs, hips and core, leading to better balance and stability, and reducing the likelihood of falls.
- Build strong bones: Walking can help improve bone density and lessen the risk of fractures. It also helps improve joint mobility and flexibility, reducing pain and stiffness.
- Boost your mood: Walking can enhance mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase feelings of well-being.
- Sharpen your mind: Walking helps improve cognitive function, including memory and attention. It also can help reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
- Shed those extra pounds: Walking can help older adults maintain a healthy weight or burn extra calories to lose weight.
- Catch your ZZZs: Walking can help improve sleep quality and reduce the risk of sleep disorders.
Step Up Your Walking Routine
There are many ways older adults can add more steps to their daily routines. Walk instead of driving to nearby destinations. Take your pooch for regular walks around the community. Swap elevator rides for stair climbing. Park in a spot that requires you to walk farther to your destination. Even small amounts of walking can have significant health benefits, so set realistic goals and gradually increase your distance or time as you get stronger.
Using a fitness app or activity tracker also can motivate you to walk more, as can joining or organizing a walking group. Getting started is simple: Reach out to your network of friends and neighbors, agree on a time and route, establish group goals and most importantly, have fun!
Tips to Help Seniors Walk Safely and Confidently
While walking is an excellent way to stay active and maintain good health, it requires preparation, awareness and appropriate gear. When looking for walking shoes, it’s essential to consider the kind of walking you will be doing. The best shoes for walking are comfortable, fit well, and provide good support and traction. If you plan on walking on uneven terrain, you’ll need shoes with more traction and ankle support. If you walk on pavement or in the city, shoes with a softer sole may be more appropriate.
Foot checkups with a doctor or podiatrist are critical for older adults as aging can cause foot problems. Blisters, calluses and ulcers can develop due to reduced circulation, thinning skin and loss of sensation. A health care professional can identify problems, recommend footwear, and diagnose arthritis or neuropathy. Here are eight tips to help seniors walk safely and confidently:
- Maintain foot hygiene, wear well-fitting shoes and avoid barefoot walking.
- If you need help to maintain your balance, use a cane, walker or other mobility aid.
- Plan your walking route ahead of time and choose well-lit, safe areas.
- Stay aware of your surroundings like uneven pavement, debris or traffic hazards.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing to stay visible to drivers and other pedestrians.
- Always carry a cellphone so you can call for help if needed.
- Bring a water bottle to stay hydrated and help prevent heat-related illnesses.
- Avoid walking in heavy rain, snow or icy conditions.
Health and Wellness Powers of Walking in Nature
May is a gorgeous month in Covington, Louisiana. From the fragrant scent of blooming gardenias and magnolia trees to the vibrant pops of color on azaleas, Louisiana iris, black-eyed Susans, daylilies and crape myrtles, nature is in full bloom and ready to be enjoyed.
Walking outside and surrounding yourself with nature can be an excellent way for seniors to enjoy the season’s beauty. Diverse landscapes, green spaces and dedicated walking paths help stimulate interest and encourage you to walk more and for more extended periods. Plus, those sunshine-filled walks help reduce stress and depression, stimulate vitamin D production, improve sleep quality and boost mental health.
Get in Step with Health and Happiness at Christwood Retirement Community
Explore our website to see all the opportunities Christwood Retirement Community offers to keep seniors active, healthy and inspired. Then come visit our community in person. Take a walk with us to discover the beauty of our 117-acre wooded nature sanctuary filled with trees, flower gardens and wildlife.