Healthy exercise for seniors will include a planned walking program. The benefits will amaze.
Medical professionals agree. The one physical exercise that is best for most seniors, is taking a walk. Healthy walking for as little as 30 minutes a day far out weigh other programs that include high impact exercises like running.
Most senior adults are not getting enough physical activity. The body of a senior, to stay healthy, needs activity. It does not have to be heavy workouts or long jogs in the park.
Walking will do just fine.
The Benefits of Walking
Seniors stand to gain a lot from walking. Staying active, even in a mild form like walking, can make a difference. Older adults are at higher risk in many categories. Walking can help in slowing the process of aging.
We all have a story of someone we know who retired, went home, sat on the couch, and died.
Being physically active changes that. The sedentary life of an older adult hastens death.
The unintended consequences of an inactive lifestyle includes:
Weight gain. Nearly all seniors start gaining weight in retirement. There are two reasons:
- Calorie intake increases.
- Calorie burn decreases.
Exercises, like walking, changes that. Walking does not free anyone from healthy eating choices, but it does increase calorie burn. The results can be weight loss, when combined with healthy eating.
An increase in weight has it’s own consequences.
- Increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- High blood pressure.
- Risks of diabetes
- Risk of kidney disease.
- Risk of colon cancer.
- Risk of Hypertension.
Exercise is not a silver bullet. If you exercise, it does not mean, you won’t have a heart attack or any of the other things listed. What it does mean, is exercise can lower the risks.
Having said that, be sure to consult with your doctor before you begin any new program.
A healthy exercise regimen like walking, will help build muscle strength. Walking will also improve body flexibility allowing you to be more agile.
Experts report that the perfect pace for fat burn is 3.1 MPH. Again, start slow and work towards it. The pace equates to a 19 minute mile.
Exercise increases balance and reduces the risk of falls.
All senior adults understand the risks associated with falling.
What Are You Thinking?
Did you ever think that exercise would make you smarter? There are all kinds of recipes for a sharper mind. Reading, doing crossword puzzles, working on jig saw puzzles. To name a few.
Did you know there have been studies done to see if exercise helps the brain?
There have, and the evidence says that regular exercise like walking, helps seniors in reflexes, reasoning and memory.
I think it’s fair to say, start walking. Begin slow. If you are cleared by your doctor, start with a few minutes a day. If you are healthy enough, begin with fifteen to twenty minutes. Start with a casual walk.
As your strength warrants, increase your tempo. If you find yourself exhausted, scale back. Take it slow. These walks are not races. If you’re out of breath, take it a little easier.
Don’t start with a quick pace. Allow your muscles to warm a bit before you speed up.
Air temperature needs to be considered. Don’t allow yourself to become chilled. Beginning your walk without proper clothing in anticipation of getting hot later due to the work out can have adverse effects.
The same is true of taking clothing off too soon because you’re hot. The chill effect of rapid cooling can lead to pneumonia. Even in otherwise healthy seniors. Be sensible.
What do you need?
The single biggest need for your walking program, is proper footwear. Taking a walk for thirty minutes needs to be done in a good shoe. This means no flip flops, crocs, bedroom slippers or barefoot.
A good athletic shoe does not mean a high priced shoe for tennis or basketball. It doesn’t need to be a running shoe. It needs to be a properly fitted, flexible, athletic type shoe with proper support. Whether it’s laced or velcro is not important.
Health.com has made some recommendations. They are widely available but generally Amazon has the best price. Here are some recommended shoes.
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Final Point – It is winter for many of you reading this. If walking out doors presents too great a risk of falling, read our review for the an affordable stationary bicycle. Click here for our review.