Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Many older people, because of fear of falling, decrease their physical activity. This fear is unfounded as research shows that walking actually strengthens muscles and improves bone density. If your muscles are strong and your bones are strong there is less likelihood of falling.
There is no need therefore to reduce physical activity as you grow older However if you have not exercised for a long time and have pre – existing medical conditions it would be wise to consult your doctor and ask his advice.
Most adults older than 65 years can exercise daily, even those with chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis. Exercise on a regular basis benefits most people. If you are not already active begin slowly. You can always increase your daily exercise period as you become fitter. You should not be tired and exhausted or have joint or muscle pain after exercise. If you have you have done too much and should do less on the next occasion.
Walking is one of the easiest physical activities to begin. You just put on your walking shoes and go! Experts recommend at least 30 minutes walking every day for maximum results. You do not have to do it all together. Three ten minute walking periods are just as effective, so you can benefit from short periods of free time. Try over a period of time to build up your walking period to one hour daily. Increasing your walking level will improve your health.
Be sure you have good walking shoes of a lightweight breathable fabric with low heels, a good arch support, wide toes, and flexible soles. Two pairs of thinner socks are more effective than one thick pair. Cover your feet liberally with petroleum jelly before putting on your socks. Petroleum jelly prevents friction and helps to avoid grazes and blisters.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Dress appropriately for the weather. Layers are more effective than one big, heavy sweater or jacket. You can add or remove layers as needs be. Bring a bottle of water with you. In sunny weather always wear a hat, sunshades and use sunscreen on your skin.
If you are a beginner walker choose flat, soft ground. It will be easier on you until you build up stamina. Listen to your own body. Maintain a moderate pace that means you should be able to carry on a conversation without gasping for breath. Walking at this pace you will cover approximately 3.5 miles per hour. If you are walking to lose weight you would need to walk at a brisker pace covering approximately 4miles per hour. If you can find a regular time to fit your walking into your daily schedule you have a better chance of establishing the habit of daily walking.
If you experience chest pain, trouble breathing, nausea, dizziness or difficulty with balance during or after your walk talk to your doctor.