Getting enough exercise can hang over our lovely gray heads like paying taxes. We can’t get through a doctor appointment without being asked how many minutes we exercise per week. We can’t watch television without being warned of the dangers of a sedentary life.
We know we need to exercise. It’s just hard to get going. If you’re a senior who’s slowed down over the years and feel that an exercise program is for those young kids, here is a simple way to get back into the swing of a more active life. And, you can do it just one step at a time.
We need a program that has good perspective—a healthy balance in our senior years. Most of us aren’t going to run a half marathon anytime soon. That’s fine.
As we age, there is always the tension between wanting to improve our health and fearing that we may injure ourselves in the process. How much is too much? Do we stop exercising when something hurts? Are we doing more harm than good?
Much of that kind of fear can be alleviated by setting a simple, straightforward plan in motion. Here are eight good reasons to begin a simple daily walking program—one that you will be able to maintain and one that gives you confidence along the way.
You should walk daily because:
You can begin from ground zero. You haven’t exercised in years? Great! This is the perfect exercise program for you.
Walking is a natural way to reduce your blood pressure. And if you continue walking you just may be able to lower your dosage of blood pressure medications or stop taking them completely.
Walking is a natural way to reduce your blood sugar—a real benefit to those with diabetes.
Walking strengthens your cardiovascular system. It improves the function of your heart and lungs and it increases the elasticity of your arteries.
Walking works your largest muscles, the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, maintaining a healthy muscle mass.
Walking strengthens bones, fighting the natural tendency to develop osteoporosis.
Walking improves balance, which is a deterrent to falls and injuries.
You need no special equipment or special training to engage in a daily walking program.
Make a plan…
See your doctor for a physical. It’s always best to be cleared by your physician before making any health decisions. Your doctor will be thrilled to get you on a walking plan.
Be sure you have good shoes with support and that they’re broken in before you begin to walk. Blisters are one way to sabotage any exercise plan.
Set some simple goals. You’ll walk for X number of minutes or you’ll walk a certain distance. Write it down and enjoy the pleasure of ticking off your daily goal.
Don’t worry if you miss a day. Plans are meant to be taken up again with no demerits for a missed session. Don’t quit.
Increase your plan in small increments and don’t start too big. Once the plan is going well, consider how to change it up to keep it interesting. Maybe you walk on a treadmill two days a week and take an outdoor walk the rest of your walking days. Maybe you take a day off over the weekend or decide to walk your local mall one day a week.
Celebrate the fact that you’ve taken positive steps to manage your health. It feels great to have a plan and to be working that plan. And all you have to do is take one step at a time.
For more information on healthy senior lifestyles see the following: