Health & Exercise
Seven Ways to Help Seniors Walk Better
“Exercise produces extraordinary benefits. Going for regular walks reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke by 31 percent. An analysis of 655,000 people in 2012 found that being active for just eleven minutes a day after the age of forty yielded 1.8 years of added life expectancy. Being active for an hour or more a day improved life expectancy by 4.2 years.”
— Bill Bryson, The Body: A Guide for Occupants
Clearly, walking has a magical effect on our bodies, and we should all be doing it. However, getting into the habit of walking regularly can be a bit of a challenge for seniors –whether we’re already active or not. Whatever your situation, a little more movement in your day can make a real difference to your health, wellbeing, and happiness.
In his book “The Body: A Guide for Occupants,” Bill Bryson writes, “As well as strengthening bones, exercise boosts your immune system, nurtures hormones, lessens the risk of getting diabetes and a number of cancers including breast and colorectal, improves mood and even staves off senility. There is probably not a single organ or system in the body that does not benefit from exercise. If someone invented a pill that could do for us all that a moderate amount of exercise can achieve, it would be the most successful drug in history.”
Until someone invents a pill that can do all that, walking is vitally important to aging well, and every little bit helps. Here are seven ways to get walking, walk more, and keep walking!
Please consult your physician or carer before starting a new exercise routine, and remember to stay hydrated and take rest breaks whenever you need to.
1) Start slow and start small. You can literally start walking one step at a time, building your endurance as you go.
2) Break up your walking throughout the day. You don’t have to walk a 5K to get the benefits of activity–just moving a little bit every hour breaks the sedentary cycle that can lead to immobility.
3) Schedule a daily walk with a friend or neighbor. Having an “accountability buddy” can help you stay consistent with your movement, and walking and talking with a companion helps the time fly by.
4) Try to walk a little further every day, even if it’s just a few steps. Make a pledge with us to walk more, and we’ll keep you motivated with inspirational messages and articles (like this one!).
5) Set yourself a target location. A neighbor’s house, a shop, a local bench, or even a neighborhood cafe (grab a treat while you’re there!) are great places to shoot for, and you can take a break once you reach your destination.
6) Eat some oily fish. No, really. Research has shown that healthy seniors who included Omega−3 fatty acids (commonly found in oily fish) in their diets, improved their walking speed more over time, versus those who were given a placebo.
7) Over time, try to walk a little more quickly, but don’t overdo it. Walking speed is a great indicator of health, and it’s good for your overall safety, like getting you across a busy crosswalk a little faster.
Movement is magic, and walking is one of the best tricks you can have up your sleeve. Use your Camino along with the tips above to walk further and more confidently, and you’ll not only improve your overall health, but you’ll be ready for more active fun.