It has been a long time coming, but research has finally shown that walking is the most popular form of exercise among the over 60’s. It is hardly surprising when you consider it is our primary form of self supported motion!
And that is the secret – all we need to do is keep on walking.
But what are the advantages of walking – why is something so rudimentary so good for us? Well that is simple:
- it strengthens our muscles
- Helps prevent weight gain and aids weight loss
- It lowers the risk of heart disease, strokes, dementia, diabetes, and osteoporosis amongst many other ailments
- It helps improve our co-ordination and improves our balance
There is a tendency as we get older to rely more and more on the car or others to get us around. That is fine if we have to travel long distances, but the majority of the journeys that we make are no more than half a mile to the local shops. Make time and walk to the shops, stop for a coffee and a chat before walking home – you have had a great morning out and had some exercise.
If however, you have not walked for a while then you need to start off slowly even if that means getting a lift to the shops and walking home. Alternatively walk for just 5 minutes a day and slowly build this up to 30 minutes and day. The key thing is to try to get out for a walk a day.
In order to give yourself every chance of making it work the following tips may be useful to you:
Join a local walking group or walk with a friend
If you walk regularly with a group or a friend you are more likely to stick to it and reap the full benefits. Check out your local Parish Council or the Ramblers to see if there is a group near you.
Wear comfortable shoes
Trainers are not just for runners, they are for walkers as well. These will be fine for the majority of local area walking. If however, you progress to off-track walking then consider a good quality walking shoe or boot. If you need to wear orthopedic shoes then seek the advise of your Doctor or Physio for the best form of shoe to suit you.
But I use a walking stick / walking frame
There is absolutely no problem with using your walking stick or a walking frame if this helps to improve your balance. You may even find that as your co-ordination improves then you will become less reliant on such devices. I would even go so far as to recommend the use of walking sticks all the time as they ease the pressure your knees and give you a more rounded exercise programme.
Talk to your to your Doctor
If you haven’t walked for a long time then it is always wise to consult your GP prior to starting any exercise programme. If at any time your start to suffer from pain or have problems walking then again consult your GP or mention it to your Heath Visitor. However, be aware that you will feel a little stiff when you first start walking – this is normal and you could even boast to your grand children that you are suffering from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
- Walk in daylight or well-lit areas, be aware of uneven surface and trip hazards
- Always carry a water bottle – and use it!
- Wear appropriate clothing for the prevailing weather conditions.
- If you are going off-track make sure someone always knows where you are going.