Yes, life can get hectic and busy at any age! When it does, your exercise routine can go right out the window. It can be a source of real frustration. After all, it wasn’t an instantaneous act. You built up to it.
One of the biggest obstacles seniors place on themselves is committing to an exercise regimen that just doesn’t fit into their lifestyle. It’s too difficult to maintain or impossible to keep up with. Experts agree the easiest and one of the healthiest ways for seniors to get the exercise they need is walking.
Easy to Keep the Commitment
It almost seems too easy. How can a brisk walk be so good for your health? Like any endurance exercise, walking increases your heart rate and breathing. The best thing for seniors about walking is that it’s an exercise that keeps them in complete control. Plus, it can be something they can participate in as a group of people at any age. Hey, where are those grandkids?
Regardless of age, it’s recommended that we walk for about 30 minutes each day in order to get the full cardiovascular benefits of this mostly passive exercise. If you haven’t taken a 30-minute stroll in quite a while, though, you might find that it seems like you’ve been walking for quite some time—and it doesn’t matter how many birthday candles will be on your cake.
Break it Up
Skip that full half hour on the first walk. Chop it into three 10-minute walks, instead. Put on sturdy shoes that give you proper footing. Select comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that won’t chafe or bind you as you walk.
Then, pick a direction and start walking! If you have a phone with a timer app (and who doesn’t nowadays?), set it to alert you when 5 minutes have elapsed. Turn around and head back to basecamp. When you return, you’ll have put in a solid 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. You’ll also likely have proved to yourself how easy it’s going to be to accomplish that 3 times a day for the first week or so.
Up to 30 Minutes
Nobody’s judging or keeping track. This is all about—and for—you. When you feel comfortable that you’ve worked up the endurance, switch over to a 30-minute walk. It’s easy math. Wherever you are 15 minutes after you start is your halfway point. It’s time to reverse direction.
Where will that 15 minutes take you? That’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of walking for exercise. Your walk gets you outside and on a safe adventure. A 15-minute walk from your starting point will definitely give you a lot to see—but it also won’t take you so far away from your home point that you’ll feel uncomfortable about the distance.
Timing your walk is one of the easiest ways to measure progress. Many people choose instead to use a step counter. They’re also known as pedometers. These inexpensive gadgets can be ordered from Amazon for under $10. Do you have an iPhone? Put away your money! The health app on your iPhone has a built-in step counter!
Try this experiment with your step counter. Wear it all day long on a day prior to a walk. How many steps does it record. If you’re not very active at all, your total may be only about 2,000 to 5,000 steps.
As a senior, your goal should be a minimum of 8,000 steps. A 30-minute walk will reward you with about 10,000 steps—and that is optimal to receive the benefits of this type of cardiovascular exercise.
- Walk with a partner. It’s a measure of safety. Make a date with your health caregiver. They need their exercise, too!
- Check with your health care professional first to be sure that adding a walking regimen is advisable.
- Stop and rest if you feel it’s necessary.
- Let others know you’re going out for a walk.
While runners often feel it’s a lonely sport, walking for exercise keeps your level of exertion low enough to enjoy conversation along the way. Let that be your measure. If you’re walking so fast that you’re too winded to carry on a conversation, slow down the pace. Besides, you’ll see more along the way!