Exercising is important for overall body well-being. A good way for older adults to stay fit and active is to practice regular exercises to help strengthen the heart, improve blood circulation, tone muscles, and enhance body flexibility.
Workouts also prevent or slow down heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, which are all common health conditions among older persons.
Walking is one of the least stressful and easily accessible forms of exercise. Nonetheless, some older adults may encounter some challenges in practicing this physical activity, and so it’s essential to be careful when picking the distance and step goals.
The importance of keeping the body active is well understood at Seasons Retirement communities in Ontario and Alberta, which is why exercising is incorporated into their plans.
This article highlights the three easiest walking exercise routines for older persons.
For a healthy lifestyle, 10,000 steps daily are recommended for the general population. However, people with joint pain or difficulty walking can settle for a smaller goal.
Here are a few useful ideas for walking exercises for seniors:
- Find a moderate trail through the park
- Create a music playlist for stimulation during your walk
- Walk the perimeter of a familiar building
- Invest in good walking shoes
There are different forms of walking workouts that can help energize the body. They include:
This easy exercise is one of the most effective forms of walking workouts. A brisk walk can be done both indoors and outdoors without stress or hassle. All you need is a pair of comfortable sneakers and clothing that allows your body to move freely.
There are three ways to measure your pace to ensure that you are in the brisk zone.
a. Monitor Your Heart Rate
For most adults, 50 to 85% of the maximum heart rate is a safe target heart rate when exercising. Calculating the maximum heart rate is easy – it’s 220 beats per minute (bpm) minus your age in years. For instance, if you are 60 years of age, your maximum heart rate is 160bpm.
From here, it is easy to calculate the low and high end of your target heart rate by multiplying your maximum heart rate by 0.50 and 0.85, respectively.
b. Steps Per Minute
During a brisk walking workout, counting your steps is another way to measure your pace. According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it is suggested that taking 80 to 100 steps per minute is considered brisk walking, and it’s fast enough to achieve fitness benefits.
c. Talk Test
The third way to get an estimate of your walking pace is by talking to someone while walking.
At a brisk pace, you should be able to talk comfortably with a little feeling of breathlessness. The inability to talk due to breathlessness is a signal to slow down while being able to sing out loud when walking is a signal to pick up the pace.
Seniors walking at a brisk pace benefit from improved cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and lower blood sugar.
When practicing a treadmill walking workout, you would need a treadmill. You can decide on your best-suited treadmill by examining its features. Ensure you use a sturdy treadmill that won’t shake while walking.
When getting a treadmill for older adults, you should look out for speed, incline ranges, and other features such as an onboard fan, a quiet motor, or an entertainment screen. Body weight is also important in choosing the best treadmill for seniors walking workouts.
When walking on a treadmill, attention should be paid to your workout pants to ensure that they are not too long or flabby to get caught in the treadmill belt.
These are a few tips to get the most out of the treadmill workout:
Familiarize yourself with the basic controls on the treadmill. These are the on/off buttons, emergency stop, and increase/decrease speed buttons. Also, begin your workout with your legs on the deck (the sides of the treadmill straddling the belt).
Start the treadmill at the slowest speed while getting familiar with it, and you can hold on to the handrails for support when getting on and off the machine.
b. Practice Good Form
While walking, it is important to practice good posture – walk upright, not leaning forward. Allow your arms to bend at a 90-degree angle and swing back and forth opposite your stride.
c. Handrail Use
Only use the handrail to get on and off the treadmill, as holding on to the rails can result in poor walking posture. However, if you use an assistive device for moving around, it is advisable to hold on to the handrails while walking.
For seniors walking on a treadmill, a physical therapist, trainer, or physician should be contacted for advice on whether it is appropriate to walk hands-free.
- Warm up for a few minutes at a slow pace before increasing the speed. You should be going at a moderate exercise intensity, which is achieved when your breathing gets heavier. Maintain this pace for at least ten minutes, but reduce the pace if you are out of breath before time.
- After reaching your desired duration, reduce the speed to an easy pace for two to three minutes before bringing the treadmill to a stop.
Being outside, spending time in forests, and hiking mountains can bring significant health benefits. Whether along the beach, on a mountain, or on plain ground, walking in nature challenges the body’s awareness of itself in space.
Nature walks improve strength, agility, and balance for an overall safer movement. It also improves mental alertness, reduces anxiety, and enhances mood altogether.
5 Benefits Of Walking Workout For Seniors
Boosts Heart Health
Walking has many advantages for heart health in seniors. By increasing your heart rate every day, you reduce your risk of developing coronary artery disease, excessive blood pressure, and even high cholesterol.
Increases Muscle Strength
The muscles in your quads, hamstrings, calves, ankles, back muscles, and abdominals are all pushed out when you go for a daily walking workout. If you add an elbow pump, your upper body also gets a workout. One of the advantages of a walking workout that can keep you more active and reduce falls is the growth of strength.
Increase Mental Health
There’s a reason why medical professionals advise people suffering from mental diseases to exercise: the endorphins created during physical activity can naturally increase mood while decreasing anxiety. The added advantage is that even those without mood disorders can benefit from the endorphins. Everyone periodically needs a pick-me-up, and walking workout endorphins, together with the fresh air, can help people think more positively and less negatively.
Why not include a regular walking workout in your plan if you want to keep your weight stable or perhaps even lose some weight?
Despite what many people think, walking can be just as efficient as running at burning fat. You can easily burn roughly 100 calories for every mile you walk, depending on your body weight and speed.
One of the finest ways to manage your weight is to walk; it’s safer and easier on the joints than other types of exercise like running.
Walking workout has been found in research to benefit some chronic pain, such as arthritis discomfort. Some senior citizens endure lower back discomfort, and even just three 20-minute walks each week can improve to strengthen the abdomen and back muscles and reduce chronic back pain.
Apart from physical benefits, seniors walking regularly also has psychological and mental advantages.
The three walking workouts mentioned in this piece are easily accessible and not complicated to practice. And you should encourage your older loved ones to engage in them to improve their overall well-being.