Low-Impact Exercises: Walking

For older adults, low-impact exercises are typically recommended to reduce the risk of injury and stress on the joints. Walking is one of the best forms of low-impact exercise for seniors of all fitness levels.

Low-Impact exercises: WalkingImage Source/Piqsels

Walking: It is simple, effective, and has numerous health benefits, such as:

  • Maintaining physical and mental health
  • Improving cardiovascular health
  • Reducing the risk of chronic diseases
  • Strengthening bones
  • Boosting mood and cognitive function
  • Increasing longevity

Overall strength and flexibility can also be increased, reducing the risk of falls and other injuries attributed to older adults.

In general, seniors should try to engage in moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking at a quickened pace, for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. If walking most days isn't possible, combining walking with other forms of low-impact exercises, such as yoga, for example, is an option.

Stretching

Before walking, taking a few minutes to stretch is recommended.

  • Gentle stretching of your legs and upper body to increase flexibility and loosen muscles.
  • Arm circles to warm up your shoulders
  • Leg swings to warm up your hips and legs
  • Ankle circles to warm up your feet and lower legs

These are all effective warm-up exercises to consider.

Cooling Down

Cooling down

Finish up your walk by taking the last five minutes to walk at a slower pace. It's important to gradually cool down. This will help return your heart rate to normal.

It's also a good idea to cool down with a few gentle stretches and deep breathing.

After walking, spending a few minutes stretching the muscles you used during your walk, such as your legs, hips, and back, and focusing on deep breathing to help calm your body and reduce stress is recommended.

Tracking Your Progress

There are several ways to track your progress as a walking senior. Here are a few:

  • Counting the number of steps you take each day
  • Keeping track of the time you spend walking each day
  • Measuring the distance you walked each day
  • Monitoring your heart rate during walks
  • Use apps that can help track walking progress, such as MyFitnessPal, Nike Training Club, or Fitbit. These apps can also provide additional features such as goal setting, reminders, and progress tracking.

Do You Need Special Equipment to Walk?

Walking is a simple form of exercise that does not require any special equipment, but a few items can make walking more comfortable and safe.

  • Investing in comfortable, supportive shoes with good arch support and a non-slip sole.
  • Using a cane, walker, nordic walking poles or other walking aids to improve stability and reduce the risk of falls.
  • Carrying a water bottle to stay hydrated. Be sure to take an occasional drink. It's easy to forget.
  • Wearing a hat, sunglasses, and using sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage are just a few examples.

The specific equipment needed may depend on individual needs and preferences.

Useful Tips

Finally, some useful tips for walking as a senior include:

  • Starting out slowly and gradually increasing your distance and intensity.
  • Paying close attention to your posture to improve your balance and prevent muscle and other strains.
  • Choosing a safe environment to walk
  • Listening to your body, and adding some variety to your routine by incorporating different terrains and inclines into your walk. It will challenge your muscles and help prevent boredom.

It's important to consult with your doctor before starting a new walking routine. Especially for seniors who are new to exercise or have any medical conditions. A consult will help determine an appropriate frequency and intensity of exercise based on your needs and your health status.

To conclude: Walking is an easy form of low-impact exercise. Most of us have been walking our entire lives. As we grow older, things start to change. We may not be as sure footed as we used to be. Our legs may not be as strong and our stamina might have diminished over the years. It's all part of this life we live.

As long as you can get up on your feet, low-impact exercise including walking should be a part of your daily routine.


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