Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Walking is not confined to any particular age group. It is the most natural form of exercise,so there is no reason why you canít continue walking as you grow older. In fact it is more important than ever that you get adequate exercise as you age and walking is one of the safest ways of ensuring that you do. Walking regularly has been proven to slow down memory loss and mental deterioration due to age.
Walking regularly will build up your strength enabling you to perform your normal daily tasks with more ease. Your balance will improve, thus preventing falls which are a constant worry for some older people. Walking will also help control your blood pressure, help you sleep better, strengthen your muscles, bones and joints and in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet will reduce weight. You will increase your heart beat as you walk which in turn strengthens your heart muscles. With all these benefits why would you not walk every day?
The social benefits of walking cannot be overemphasised. Even if you walk alone you meet and greet people as you walk, you see activity all around you and you can admire the countryside or the streetscape, listen to the sounds around you and feel part of life. This in turn will combat loneliness and depression. Join a walking group if you can or find a friend to walk with you. This will make the walk more pleasurable for you and ensure that you do it on a regular basis. Your aim should be to walk for 30 minutes at least five times a week. Check out this ten week walking plan.
If you havenít walked for a long time talk to your doctor before you start and be advised by him/her. Start off slowly and increase your distance gradually. You should be able to talk comfortably as you walk. If you are not, just reduce speed by taking shorter steps until you feel comfortable.
Walking on grass or dirt paths is easier on the body than walking on tarmac and a walking pole is useful in helping you maintain balance and for warding off dogs! A walking pole will also help transfer weight from your knees to your upper body thus saving those knee joints. If the weather is too wet or too cold try mall walking Ė using your local shopping mall as a covered walking arena!
The only thing you need to start walking is a good pair of walking shoes which will provide adequate support for you feet and ankles and sufficient cushioning to withstand the shock of constant feet/pavement contact. For advice on buying walking footwear click here
Be sure to keep you body well hydrated as you walk. Carry a small bottle of water with you.Drink water before you walk, during your walk and at the end of your walk.
Enjoy your walk and do not be discouraged if you can only do a little every day. Every step counts and will contribute to your overall wellbeing. Take reasonable safety precautions as you walk and you will soon reap the benefits of this extra activity.