Walking is a wonderful form of exercise for everyone, but especially seniors. It’s low-impact and can be done anywhere. No special equipment is needed, and the benefits of walking are plentiful. Before we get into all the health benefits your senior can enjoy from walking, let’s talk about a few things he should do before he begins a walking program.
- Get the okay from his doctor. No matter your senior’s current health, he can probably do some type of walking. But it’s always best to talk to his doctor first to get any advice or limitations the doctor recommends.
- Get proper footwear. About the only “equipment” required for walking is good supportive shoes. Comfortable sneakers usually work best. But if they’re new, take shorter walks to break them in and avoid blisters.
- Get moving. Once your loved one has the okay and some good shoes, you just need to find a good, safe place for him to walk and maybe a walking companion. His senior home care provider might join him for walks or drive him to the location where he’ll do his walking.
Now, let’s examine some health benefits your loved one may receive from a regular walking program.
- Stronger muscles. Walking gets those leg muscles moving. It also works core muscles and even arm muscles. Swinging the arms while walking (or even carrying light weights) helps with weight training. If possible, adding an area with stairs or a ramp can add a little extra workout for his muscles.
- Stronger bones. Walking regularly strengthens the bones and can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Stronger bones can mean that even if your senior falls, he’s less likely to break a bone in that fall.
- Greater energy. While it can seem like exercising will make you tired, it increases stamina and energy. Walking daily with his senior care provider can give your loved one the energy he needs to do housework or yardwork.
- Less anxiety. Whether he walks alone, or with a friend or senior care provider, walking can reduce depression and anxiety in some people. It increases mood and confidence, which can carry over to everyday life.
- Blood pressure reduction. Walking can help reduce blood pressure and hypertension.
- More flexible joints. Keeping the body moving helps keep those joints flexible and able to pivot when the need arises, reducing the risk of falls or stumbles.
- Improved balance. Speaking of reducing the risk of falling, another benefit of walking is improved balance. Being able to maintain his balance will reduce his risk of falling, even if he steps on a slippery spot on the floor or some ice.
- Finally, walking can also find your loved one a community in which to connect and make friends. It also enriches his mental health and social connections. If he walks in public places, he’s likely to see the same people frequently and build new relationships.
Walking can keep your loved one independent, so see if he’s willing to give it a try. He’s got nothing to lose.