Exercising and physical activity is good for everybody no matter age or endurance level. Different forms of exercise have different benefits for your health, both physically and mentally.
As a senior, it can become harder to motivate yourself to stay active. But it also becomes more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercising and physical activity.
"Studies have shown that maintaining an active lifestyle will help you stay happy"
Being active will also boost your energy levels, keep your heart healthy, and manage symptoms of illness and pain.
Exercising on a regular basis has also proven to be healthy for your mood, memory, and mind. What is there to think about then?
How do I start exercising as a senior?
If you haven’t been exercising for a while it can be quite hard starting again, we know. But no matter your age, anything “new” is always harder than something you have been doing for a while.
As a senior, you also have to take your body’s limitations into consideration. Maybe your body can’t do the same things you use to do 10 years ago? If it can, good for you, and just keep on keeping on!
However, if you are starting a new, you should definitely consider exercise methods that start out slowly while building your stamina and strength. Don’t forget the added bonus of improving your mental health as well. This is where walking is the perfect exercise method. However, you should remember to increase your pace when walking as an exercise method.
Another type of exercise to consider is biking.
You might also want to consider having a fixed exercise plan. Having a schedule will make it easier for you to stick to your plans and goals. But the most important thing is, to find an activity that you enjoy and makes you feel good about yourself.
Slow down, take a walk
Walking such a simple form of exercise. However, walking has actually proven to be an excellent exercise method. Not only do you get to move your muscles, but you also get to do it at your own pace. It also does not put a lot of strain on your knees and joints, as for instance running does.
"Walking may be the simplest form of working out, but it is quite beneficial and something you can do anywhere anytime"
It’s the easiest form of exercise to get started on because all you have to do is simply put one foot in front of the other. What’s not to like?!
One thing to consider would be acquiring a decent pair of shoes, with a lot of comfort to them.
What if you haven’t been physically active for a long time?
There is no better time than the present to change that. If you haven’t been exercising for a long time, walking can be the perfect way to start. You can start out slow, and build your stamina steadily while increasing your minutes from time to time.
If you are a seasoned walker you can also challenge the pace at which you walk. You can always work up a sweat by power walking or walking more intensely for a few minutes at a time. Another tip would be to carry some light weights with you as to also work on your upper body while walking.
Basically walking is for everybody no matter level of endurance. The pace at which you walk should be based on your physical needs, as well as state, and gradually increase from that point on.
Why you should start walking
Well, there are a lot of health benefits attached to walking, physical as well as mental.
Physically your heart, for one, will get stronger. You will also lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of type-2 diabetes, dementia, high cholesterol, and cancer. Your bones will also get stronger and be less frail. You can also prevent peripheral artery disease, which is a disease that impairs blood flow in the legs and in turn causes leg pain.
Getting a cold is quite usual, especially if the weather changes dramatically or you have been spending time with other people who have had a cold. But if you walk on a regular exercise basis, you can actually decrease your chances of contracting a cold.
"Researchers at the University of Massachusetts medical school have found that people who walk every day had 25% fewer colds than people who were inactive"
Mentally, walking will decrease stress symptoms, help you sleep better at night, as well as boost your positivity and outlook on life. Walking increases your serotonin levels, which can work as an anti-depressive drug.
Walking as an exercise form
It doesn’t take a lot of preparing or effort to begin walking. All it really requires is a good pair of walking shoes. As walking is an exercise form with a low-intensity level it is recommended that you walk at a semi-to-high speed for at least 30 minutes a day. An alternative to this could be power-walking, more about that later.
"Walking half an hour every day will also help you loose up to 23 pounds per year. If you walk directly after a meal it will also lower your blood sugar and make you less susceptible to eating snacks."
Walking can be done alone, with your spouse, kids, friends, neighbors, or family. You can even join a walking club and walk with other seniors who are on the same mission as you.
Vary your speed and surface while walking
Power-walking is somewhere in-between walking and running. It has a lot of the same benefits to it as regular walking, but if you want to power-walk correctly you speed should be at least 3.7 miles per hour. Any less than this and you are just walking regularly. An added bonus to power-walking is that it burns calories quicker than that of regular walking.
Adding hills, gravel, sand, mud or grass, as a different surface than concrete will also provide a bigger challenge for you as a walker. It will also activate different muscles and get your heart pumping more. The uneven surfaces will also stimulate different acupressure points on the soles of your feet, which in turn can regulate your blood pressure.
What activities can you also do while walking?
There are different ways of keeping yourself entertained while you are exercising. Listening to music is one way, walking with a partner or in a group can be another way.
A third option could be listening to an audiobook. Audiobooks are a great tool to “read” books while being active. They are also a way to boost your creativity and imagine the different scenes more vividly. There are a lot of positive features and benefits form using audiobooks.