Make walking part of your daily routine as it will not only make you look but feel younger and help you stay independent longer.
Walking is a great form of physical activity to improve overall health in seniors. Thirty minutes of walk everyday will help you improve your mood, strengthen your bones, increase cardiovascular fitness, and boost muscular strength. If you are unable to walk for 30 minutes at a stretch begin with regular short bouts (10 minutes) of walk and gradually build up to longer session of 30 minutes. Walking is a low impact workout and can be done anytime of the day at your own pace.
Here are some ways that can help you walk better and make walking an enjoyable and social part of your lifestyle:
Pick the correct sneakers – It is important to protect your feet, ankles and knees. The wrong type of shoe can cause foot pain, blisters, and injuries to the soft tissue. So finding a good fit is a key – “You want to make sure your foot doesn’t slip at all and that the shoe itself does not bend easily through the arch (or mid-foot),” advises Mark Fenton, author of The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss and Fitness. You can drop by at a shoe store near you and someone from the store will help you with a proper fit.
Choose a safe spot – If you want to stick close to your home, limit your walking to neighbourhood streets where the surface is flat or pick different routes close to your home so that you don’t get tired of seeing the same sights. Walk in the park as it will give you an opportunity to socialise with people and your walk can turn into an enjoyable social occasion. If the weather is cold or rainy then choose to walk in indoor areas such as – malls and community clubs.
Clothing – Dress according to the climate. During winters layer up your clothing to keep you warm and during summers choose sweat wicking fabric. Wear clothes that are comfortable and loosely fitted to allow you to move.
A snack goes a long way – It is not ideal to start the day on an empty stomach. Your body needs fuel in order to have better stamina. So it would be a good idea to have a light snack before you go for a walk. Snack such as – a small banana, a morsel of oats, handful of dried fruits, half whole grain bread with nut butter, half a glass of fruit smoothie, small energy bar, carrot juice or tea with honey.
Keep yourself hydrated – It is essential to keep yourself fully hydrated before you go for a walk. As your heart rate rises you will begin to sweat causing dehydration. Carry a small bottle of water so that you can keep sipping as you feel thirsty. Dehydration may cause your muscle to cramp, dizziness, feeling of nausea and potential injury.
Importance of warming up and cooling down – Warming up and cooling down before and after you walk should be a priority as it will help decrease the chance of injury, muscle soreness and make your performance better during your walk. The best ways to warm up is walk at a leisurely pace gently swinging your arms and then do some gentle stretching advices Shannon Mescher, an exercise physiologist and Arthritis Foundation consultant from United States.
- HAMSTRING AND ANKLE
Sit on the edge of a chair with your right leg extended, right heel on floor. Flex right foot and keep toes pointed up. Lean forward gently from your hips to feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Repeat with left leg.
- CALF STRETCH
Stand up straight, holding on to a chair. Put left leg behind you, keeping left heel on the floor. Bend right knee and lean toward the chair. You should feel the stretch in the calf of the left leg. Repeat with right leg.
- GROIN STRETCH
Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width and hold on to a chair. With left foot facing forward, point right foot to right 45 degrees then lunge in that direction without letting knee go past toes. Repeat move on left side.
- LEG SWINGS
Stand up straight, holding on to a chair with your left hand for support. Standing to the side of the chair on your left leg, move your right leg to the front, side and back, tapping your toe at each point. Repeat with left leg.
Try to hold each position (rather than bouncing) for 10 to 20 seconds, or after you feel a gentle stretch or tension. Hold on to a chair or other stable object for balance.
Make walking part of your routine as it will not only make you look but feel younger and help you stay independent longer.