Exercise is just as important for us as seniors as it was when we were young. Resistance training helps retain muscle and core strength. Walking has lots of benefits. We want to share some walking for health tips that we have learned together over the years.
We Learned Some Walking for Health Tips
Over the years, we have learned a few things about walking. When should we walk? What kind of shoes are best for walking? Where is the best place to walk? Should we walk fast or slow? Should we walk during the day or at night? Should we walk on the street, the sidewalk or a track. Is hiking in on trails in the woods more beneficial that walking in our neighborhood? We have thought about all these questions.
Why is Walking Healthy?
- Walking is a good for cardiac health. When we walk at a normal speed of about 3 miles per hour, our heart rate increases. This increases blood flow and improves cardiac health.
- Our lungs benefit from walking. If we walk at a pace that allows us to talk and walk, our lungs are working and strengthening, but not over working.
- Walking improves muscle tone. When we walk, our arms swing and our legs lift and push. This helps improve and maintain muscle tone. Just the act of keeping ourselves upright when we walk strengthens our core and neck.
- Our joints benefit from walking. As was move, our joints move. There is some resistance despite minimal trauma to the joints. Adjusting speed, footwear and walking surface to our particular needs makes sure that are joints are moving and safe.
- Walking on sunny days boosts our supply of vitamin D. The National Center for Biotechnology Information lists other benefits of walking in the sun.
- Often, walking can provide some social interaction as we pass others who are walking and offer a simple greeting. This is part of “getting out of the house.”
(The above examples are opinions and not based on any specific medical statements or expertise)
When is the Best Time to Walk
We have learned over the years that we can walk anytime and for any reason. We walk the dog daily together. This can be up to a mile or more or less. The only problem is that Sage, our dog, stops every 100 ft. to smell something. We don’t really get our heart rate up, but the walk is still important.
About once a week, we shop at Costco. Although we have a list, we still end up walking through the store endlessly because things are always moved around. Again, walking at the store does not raise our heart rate, but we are walking for a long time.
In the early evening, we often walk through our neighborhood for 45 minutes or an hour. We enjoy talking during this time so we don’t walk extremely fast. We do raise our heart rate. This is one of our walking for health tips. Walking together makes it more fun. Walking together at night helps us feel a bit safer. We live in a good neighborhood but….
When we are really serious about raising our heart rate as we walk, we go to the track. When we walk on the track, we try to walk as fast as we can for a sustained amount of time. I tend to start on the outside lane and work inward with each lap. Each lap gets shorter because of the turns. I think of the the shorter lane each lap as little reward or an incentive to keep walking.
Equipment Walking for Health Tips
Walking is a natural thing to do. Despite that, we need to think about what we equipment will make walking safe and enjoyable.
Wide Fitting Walking Shoes
Shoes are perhaps the most important piece of equipment for walking. Shoes should reflect the surface on which we walk as well as comfort for our feet. I need wide fitting walking shoes. My feet are not particularly wide. However, I have a problem with my feet that can cause pain if my shoes are not wide enough. I don’t worry too much about look or even durability, but comfort when I am walking.
Hats For Walking
We are not big hat fans. However, when we are walking for any length of time, we wear a hat. I think a hat should fit personality, mood and occasion. I have a hat for hiking and one for just walking around. My wife prefers baseball caps. Any hat will do as long as you like it and it protects your head from the sun.
Jackets for Walking
The weather dictates whether or not a jacket is needed to go for a walk. Of course, rain demands one kind of jacket and cold another. I tend to wear a waterproof windbreaker outside and layers inside depending on the cold. My wife has lots of jackets for different looks as well as the weather.
Walking Sticks and Canes
I have just been told that I should be using a cane when I walk. Maybe I will. Walking sticks and canes are important pieces of equipment especially when hiking. Rocks and uneven terrain can be dangerous for anyone. A walking stick for balance is a good idea for every hiker.
Neuropathy, vertigo and other health concerns can make the use of a cane manditory. The style, weight, and height of a cane are dictated by personal need. For some reason, I have no problem using a walking stick when I am hiking. However, I am finding it difficult to use a cane for walking.
Wooden walking sticks are nice. Aluminum walking sticks are fashionable.
Hydration Hiking or Just Walking
We probably don’t need to think about hydration if just walking for a few moments. Particularly in heat, some form of water bottle or bladder pack is needed for hydration. Heat stroke and dehydration are real possibilities even just walking around town. Take some time to think of what kind of hydration equipment works best for you.
Walking for Health Tips: Final Thought
The UK NHS recommends a ten minute, brisk walk daily. This contributes to the 150 minutes weekly of exercise that they recommend. The fact is that walking is good for us. It can be leisurely around town, productive in the store or strenuous on the trail. Get in the habit of walking sometime each day. If you do it with someone else, it will be more fun.