For people of any age, an active lifestyle is an important part of overall health. With the American lifestyle trending toward more sitting and less activity, it is critical for everyone to be aware of how much they move during the day. For seniors, moving toward a sedentary lifestyle is an even greater risk. As seniors lose some mobility, change their interests and possibly deal with chronic health conditions, the daily activities that kept them moving may no longer be a priority.
The dangers of an overly inactive lifestyle include an increased risk for some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, the old adage of “if you don’t use it, you lose it” proves to be true! The less a person uses their muscles, the less strength and flexibility they will have. In order to stay active during those precious golden years, it helps to understand the health benefits of regular exercise, as well as tips for making simple exercise a part of the daily routine.
Walking as exercise for seniors is one of the best ways to move during the day. Walking for seniors is good for the mind and the body. So, what are the benefits of walking for seniors? And what is the best way to set up a walking program for seniors?
Benefits of Walking for Seniors
Walking is often named as the best, most accessible exercise for seniors. Senior walking is effective, and it can be done almost anywhere! Walking helps to reduce the risk for many chronic conditions, improves overall health and is often an important part of rehabilitation for seniors overcoming a stroke, surgery or a serious illness.
Brisk walking is also considered to be a moderate-intensity, low-impact workout that does not put excess strain on joints, such as the hip, knee and ankles, which are susceptible to injury with higher-impact workouts.
Additional benefits of senior walking include:
- Lowering blood sugar. After a meal, a 15-minute walk can reduce the after-eating spike in blood sugar experienced by some seniors.
- Reducing pain. Senior walking can help to reduce some pain due to conditions such as arthritis or lower back pain.
- Improving heart health. For seniors, simple exercises like walking can reduce the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even coronary artery disease.
- Supporting mental health. Taking a daily walk can help make seniors feel more positive about life. In general, exercise releases endorphins that reduce anxiety and create a sense of well-being.
- Social engagement. Spending time interacting with friends, neighbors and peers can have a positive effect on mood and emotional well-being.
- Immune system health. Research shows that seniors who walk regularly are less likely to get sick than those who do not exercise at all.
- Low cost. Gym memberships and exercise equipment can be costly investments for seniors living on their own. However, senior walking doesn’t require anything but a comfortable pair of shoes and some commitment!
Walking Tips for Seniors
It is recommended that seniors age 65 and older get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week, or about 30 minutes per day. Generally, older adults in good physical shape walk somewhere between 2,000 and 9,000 steps daily. This translates into walking distances of 1 and 4.5 miles respectively. Increasing the walking distance by roughly a mile will produce health benefits.
For seniors, exercise is an important aspect of living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining independence. Here are some tips to help incorporate senior walking into the daily routine:
- Warm up. Start out with a five-minute, slow-paced walk. Start at a pace that’s comfortable, then gradually pick up speed until the pace is more brisk. Slow the pace to cool down during the last five minutes of the walk.
- Start slowly. Start out with 10 minutes per day for the first three weeks. Slowly increase the walking time by five minutes per week until the total senior walk time gets up to 30 minutes per day, six days per week.
- Get creative. Change up clothing, listen to music, buy new shoes. Find ways to keep walking fun!
- Schedule for success. If it is hard to get motivated, sign up for a class or find a walking group for older adults. In a senior living community, like the Tutera Senior Living & Health Care communities, it is easy to connect with neighbors and enjoy a walk on the grounds!
- Keep it social. Walking with others adds a fun, social component, as well as motivation to keep up and accountability to show up! Senior living residents can invite family and friends to join them for a walk, then stay for a meal prepared by on-site chefs.
- Celebrate accomplishments. All successes are worth celebrating when it comes to exercise. Walked two days in a row? Hooray! Brought a friend on a walk? Nice work! Acknowledging accomplishments makes it more likely that seniors will try to achieve new ones.
Tutera Senior Living & Health Care
Tutera Senior Living & Health Care is committed to creating the best possible experience for each and every resident. We operate under a YOUNITE philosophy, which means we focus on your needs, your preferences and your goals. On a daily basis, we:
- Enable your healthy-as-possible outcomes
- Encourage your continued personal growth
- Empower you to direct and control your daily living
Offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, Thrive memory care, rehabilitation and extended stay and respite programs, Tutera Senior Living is able to meet the needs of seniors and their families throughout the aging journey. Our core values of respect, integrity, hospitality and positivity drive our decisions and our program planning, ensuring there are choices available for every senior’s interests and needs, creating lots of moments of joy!
Interested in learning more about Tutera Senior Living? Contact us today so we can answer your questions and tell you more about our care and our culture! Want to explore your options for a community near you? Try our community finder tool and learn more about each Tutera location!