Meet you at the Intersection of Better Health and More Energy!
I’m Barrie, I’m 87 and I warmly welcome you to my monthly blog Over50andfit.ca
I have previously written about walking, but since then I have identified even more compelling reasons why this often-unheralded form of exercise can result in major health benefits. Ah, and walking could become your new best friend!
Walking is something that almost all of us take for granted, yet It’s a simple way to trigger a cascade of health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at it.
A Potpourri of Benefits
The benefits of walking include, most importantly, improved health, fitness, wellbeing and mobility. In addition, enhancing balance, keeping joints flexible, strengthening bones, lowering the risk of heart disease, and helping to reduce blood pressure. And who wouldn’t want to experience all of these? What’s more, it’s a low-impact activity that we do naturally. WebMD espouses the many mental benefits of walking. This site suggests a technique to make your walk more interesting.
I can personally attest to the benefits of walking. Since being hit by a car in ‘20 and breaking 12 ribs and vertebrae, slow and steady walking, kilometer after kilometer, has been my major form of recovery. Without walking, I would not be recovering as quickly as I am.
Preparing for Walking
Wear comfortable, lightweight shoes with strong support. Also, choose cushioned socks. Appropriate clothing is a must. Consider walking with a friend or a group, as the social interaction is likely to give you the impetus to walk more regularly and possibly to walk even further. Establishing routines – such as choosing the same time to walk each day – can generate more discipline. WebMD documents a comprehensive list of helpful suggestions. Ah, and let’s not forget a healthy dose of motivation.
Strategies for Walking
If you’re just beginning, you might start by walking for 5-10 minutes at a leisurely pace 3 times weekly. After 2 weeks, you could increase your daily walk by 2 minutes for 2 weeks, and subsequently by 2-3 minute more every 2 weeks until you can walk for 30 minutes, a commendable goal. These increases are guidelines only and of course can be changed to whatever suits YOU. The generally accepted rule is not to increase the time of your workouts by much more than 10%. What if it’s cold outdoors? Head for a shopping mall and walk in comfort – I do this often. Setting goals of what you want to achieve can provide more motivation.
How Fast, How Long, How Often?
At what pace should you walk? Start slowly and gradually. If you are able to carry on a conversation, you are walking at the correct pace for a beginner. As you become more comfortable with walking, you can increase your pace for about 25% of the duration of the walk. Your heart rate and rate of breathing will also increase. A laudable target is to walk for 30 minutes five times weekly. If you eventually aspire to complete a 5 km walk, this site gives constructive advice.
Walkers for Mobility
For those with declining upper body strength, walking devices can become indispensable. A growing number of seniors are choosing walkers to help them stay active, enhance mobility and independence, and engage in enjoyable activities.
Keeping a Record
Record your walks: time, distance or steps taken. Keeping a record (perhaps on your fridge) is a sure motivator. My go-to strategy is to record the number of steps I take each day. Approximately 1200 steps are equal to 1 kilometer, and 2000 steps are equivalent to 1 mile. There’s a plethora of devices on the market which will count the number of steps taken, give heart rate, calories expended, number of minutes of exercise, etc. The simplest and easiest device just might be your smart phone, which will record how many steps you have walked and the time taken.
Caution: I strongly urge you to consult your family doctor about the level of exercise which is appropriate for you, particularly if you have not exercised for a long period of time.
Please feel free to share your comments and questions.
Oh, and make sure to keep hydrated – drink lots of water.
Yours in fitness,