Walking is an important part of our daily lives, especially for seniors who need daily low-impact exercises. In fact, it’s one of the most popular forms of exercise for older adults, improving health and keeping those bones strong. That’s why if you haven’t started walking for exercise yet, it’s time you do so now.
But wait, you’ll need to ensure that you’re walking correctly! YES, you have to prepare yourself for daily walks to ensure you’re reaping health benefits without the risk of injury. With that said, read on as I show you the benefits and walking tips for seniors.
- 1 The Benefits of Walking For Seniors
- 2 Ten Walking Tips For Seniors
- 3 Wrapping It Up
The Benefits of Walking For Seniors
Experts say how walking is the best exercise seniors can participate in. This exercise is a great way to reduce risks for chronic conditions, along with improving one’s overall health. These are some of the benefits seniors can reap when they start walking:
1. Improves Heart Health
For seniors, walking can provide a ton of benefits for their heart health. Walking is an easy way to get your heart rate up, and when done daily, it can reduce the risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, as well as coronary heart diseases!
2. Lowers Blood Sugar
After eating, taking walks can reduce that spike in blood sugar after meals many seniors may experience. It will also be able to help your body use blood sugar better, strengthening the muscles. Insulin will also begin to work better as well!
3. It Reduces Pain
Studies show how walking can reduce pain caused by various chronic conditions such as arthritis or lower back pain. Walking daily, or even at least thrice a week for half an hour can strengthen back and abdominal muscles, decreasing chronic back pain.
4. Affordable and Easy to Do
What’s great about walking is that it’s a low-impact exercise anyone, including seniors, can do. Plus, it’s a very affordable one without the need for a gym membership. All you need is a good shoe, the right path around the neighborhood, and good weather to get you started.
5. Better Mental Health
Daily walks can help one feel even more positive about life and boost mood, just like any exercise. Endorphins are released during and after physical activities, which can reduce stress and anxiety, as well as create senses of wellbeing. Plus, it can promote social engagement, providing seniors a chance to meet up and make new friends!
Ten Walking Tips For Seniors
Now that you know why walking is beneficial for seniors, how can one start? Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy! Here are some helpful walking tips for seniors to follow:
1. Staying Safe While Walking
Safety should be your number one concern when walking!
- Choose familiar routes that are flat and without obstacles
- Do NOT rush, as it increases the risk of falling
- Carry a mobile phone in case of any emergencies
- Let a trusted one know where you will be going and when you plan to go back
- Pack water with you and always stay hydrated
2. Wear the Right Shoes
You’ll need to have supportive shoes to prevent any injuries and to keep your feet supported and comfortable throughout the entire walk. If you have any feet problems, seek advice from the podiatrist for orthopedic shoes and other recommendations to make your walks free from harm’s way.
3. Warm-Up and Cool Down
While walking is a low-impact exercise, you still need to warm up and cool down. This helps prevent any muscle strains and walking-related injuries.
Warmups can help increase your blood circulation, delivering nutrients and oxygen to your tissues. This makes the muscles reactive and pliable, preparing it for exercise. Cooldowns help decrease arctic acid buildup, preventing nay aches and sores.
4. Check the Weather
If you choose to walk outside instead of the treadmill, you always have to be wary of the weather. Check ahead to schedule your walks accordingly, ensuring that it’s the right temperature for you to walk outside safely.
Walking in the rain, excruciating heat, or the cold can be dangerous, especially if you aren’t prepared. So if it’s hotter or colder than usual, dress for the weather or postpone the walk. You wouldn’t want to risk slipping on ice or getting a heat stroke!
If the weather is too harsh for long periods (like winter seasons), opt to use the treadmill or other low-impact exercises such as yoga or recumbent bike.
5. Choose a Good Walking Path and Surface
As you get older, it gets more difficult to walk on harder surfaces such as roads and sidewalks. It would feel even harsher on the joints and muscles, especially if you already have problems around your lower body.
I recommend that you choose pathways that have softer walking surfaces, such as grass or smooth dirt trails. You can also consider using the treadmill, offering a safer and controlled environment when exercising.
6. Listen to Your Body
Walking is beneficial, but there is a limit and you shouldn’t avoid pushing yourself even when it hurts. If your back is aching, you have sore knees or feel a cold coming, this is a sign to stop early and avoid pushing it.
Pay attention to your body while walking and if you feel anything out of the ordinary, it’s best to stop and check with a doctor. This can help maintain your health while continuing your walking safely.
7. Break Your Exercises
For those over the age of 65, you’ll need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Half an hour of exercise 3-4x a week is good, but it’s best to work your way up to one hour a day.
This may be a bit intimidating if you haven’t worked out in a long time. However, you can break these 60 minutes and exercise throughout the day rather than go all out in one session. Have a 20-minute walk thrice a day to make it easier to manage.
8. Have A Buddy
Some people feel discouraged when walking alone, so you should get some support and encouragement! Let your family and friends know about your healthy lifestyle change and ask if they would like to join. Being with other people boosts your confidence and socialization, as well as motivates you to get up.
You can also walk with your nurse aid or join a walking program suited for seniors. That way, you can make new friends and look forward to walks.
9. Do You Need a Walking Aid?
If you struggle with balance or joint pain, don’t let the cane or walking aid stop you! You can use canes, walkers, walking sticks, or trekking poles and still reap the health benefits. Such devices provide better support and will redistribute body mass, preventing the weight from over-pressuring your joints and feet.
Besides this, these devices can help reduce your risk of injury, especially if you already suffer from chronic pain. Do get yourself checked by a medical professional for them to determine if you need a walking aid or other alternatives for better support.
10. The Proper Pace
Walking at this age can be a bit difficult and you may not know what the right pace is. There’s no exact speed or number to follow, it all depends on your comfort level.
A good rule of thumb is to walk as quickly as you can, but at a speed where you can still hold a conversation. You should have a heart rate similar to when climbing up the stairs, only a bit elevated, but not too much to the point you’re wheezing!
If you want to learn even more walking tips for seniors, check out this informative video:
Wrapping It Up
While walking is extremely beneficial for health, you have to make sure that you’re doing it correctly. As long as you follow the right tips and prepare ahead, you can start your journey to looking and feeling better. Not only should seniors begin walking, but people of all ages!
I hope that all these walking tips for seniors helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and start following these tips for a more active lifestyle now. If you have any queries or want to share your own experiences and tips for walking as exercise, then comment below. All your thoughts are much appreciated!