Walking: Get Moving and Stay Safe
Walking is great exercise for seniors. Brisk walking is like other endurance exercises, it can increase your heart rate and breathing. Endurance exercises keep you healthy, improve your fitness, and help you do the tasks you need to do every day. For some, walking for the recommended 30 minutes a day might be difficult.
If so, try walking for 10 minutes at a time and build up to three times a day. As your endurance improves, walk longer until you can advance to a single 30-minute walk.
As your walk becomes easier, add new challenges, such as climbing a hill, extending the time you walk, increasing your walking pace, or adding an additional day of walking. Step counters can help you keep track of your walking, set goals, and measure your progress.
Most inactive people get fewer than 5,000 steps a day, and some very inactive people get only 2,000 steps a day. Try wearing a step counter for a few days to see how you’re doing. If you get:
Walking for daily exercise is low-impact, safe and free.
- Fewer than 5,000 steps a day, gradually add 3,000 to 4,000 more steps a day.
- About 8,000 steps a day, you’re probably meeting the recommended activity target.
- 10,000 or more steps a day, you can be confident that you’re getting an adequate amount of endurance activity.
- 10,000 steps a day comfortably, try for 15,000 steps a day, which would put you in the high activity group.
It can also improve cardiovascular fitness and strengthen muscles and bones. Speak to your health care provider before starting a walking program, especially if you have an existing chronic medical condition or have been inactive for a long period of time. Other safety tips:
- Choose a familiar route that’s flat and free of obstacles.
- Consider the surface you’ll be walking on. A smooth, soft surface that’s free of debris will put less strain on your joints and feet.
- Wear supportive footwear, such as low-heeled footwear with non-skid soles.
- Avoid rushing to reduce your risk of falling. Take your time.
- If using a walking aid (e.g. cane or walker) be sure it’s fitted for your height.
- Be extra careful in cold weather — sidewalks and paths can be slippery.
- Cold weather can cause numbness and make it difficult for you to feel any pain or an injury. When it’s cold outside, consider walking in an indoor place, like a mall or community fitness centre.
- Walk with friends or a walking club.
- Carry a cell phone in case of emergencies.
- Dress appropriately for the weather and drink plenty of water.
- Stop or take a break if you feel any pain during your walk. Consult a health care provider if pain continues after your walk.
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