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Walking Your Way to a Happier, Healthier Lifestyle


For older adults, exercise that is safe, yet effective is a must. This is where walking comes in. Fitness experts, including own expert, have indicated that walking just may be as valuable as aerobic exercises such as swimming, running or riding a bike. Exercise is one of the oldest forms of exercise known and can be one of the most beneficial to senior citizens. In fact, more than 77 million Americans engage in walking for fitness on a regular basis.

The benefits of a walking fitness program:

  • Weight loss or weight maintenance
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved fitness levels
  • Lower stress and tension levels
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Ability to perform everyday tasks with more ease
  • Improve heart and lung function
  • Decreased risk of disease – such as heart disease and diabetes.

Walking is a low risk activity that is easy to begin. With a walking program, it is also highly unlikely that you will sustain any injuries. Walking exercises all of the muscles of your body and can also help to maintain the health of your feet (which is especially important in older adults with diabetes. Walking is relatively low impact (especially when compared to running) and is an excellent form of exercise for older adults of all fitness levels. It is also important to remember that cardiac rehabilitation programs across America base their exercise programs on walking.

What you need to get started:

  • Comfortable walking shoes – shoes should fit snugly in the heel, have adequate arch support, provide shock absorption and have enough room so that your toes can wiggle in your shoes.
  • Pedometer. A pedometer can help you track your steps and progress as a walker.
  • A place to walk – consider a high school track, trails, your neighborhood or a local mall – many local malls have senior citizen mall walker clubs.
  • A friend to walk with (exercising with a friend can make exercise more fun as well as making it more likely that you will stick with your exercise program).
  • Loose, layered clothing. You can always remove layers should you become too warm.
  • Clearance from your physician.

To begin a walking program, start by walking short distances. Each time you walk add two to 5 minutes to your walk until you reach 30 minutes per session. When you first start out do not worry about speed and avoid inclines as well as hills. Once you have worked your way up to a 30 minute walk, you can also turn your speed up a notch – but make sure you are still able to carry on a conversation while walking. When your walking routine becomes more advanced, consider adding hills to your workout. Try to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes. You can also aid to lengthen your stride or increase the speed of your walks.

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