While senior fitness offerings continue to explode in gyms around the country, the age-old tradition of simply ‘going for a walk’ still touts loads of health benefits, especially for older adults.
Brisk walking a offers low-impact activity that is relatively simple, can be done most anywhere, is fun to do with friends, and is easily modifiable to increase calorie burn. In addition to strengthening your bones and muscles, routine walking can also help prevent lifestyle conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as improve your balance, coordination, and even your mood.
If you are looking for quick ways to take your daily walk to the next level, don’t miss these expert tips:
The best exercise is that which gets your heart rate up to at least 55 to 85% of your MHR (maximum heart rate). The formula for MHR = 220 – your age. So if you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is around 155. Speeding up your walk so your heart rate climbs over 109 (70% of 155) for at least 10 minutes is going to count as good aerobic exercise that is helping strengthen your heart muscle.
Walking up an incline naturally requires the body to work harder and use up more energy. This can help you build endurance over time and tone muscle groups in your legs you weren’t previously engaging. If you are concerned about a weak knee, reduce lateral knee movement and prevent discomfort with a knee brace specifically designed for walking.
Instead of doing your usual walk around the roads in your neighborhood, head to a local trail and take a hike. Hiking up and downhill will burn more calories as well as pose a greater challenge to your balance and coordination skills. Exercising like this in nature has also been shown to boost feelings of attentiveness and positivity.
Incorporate more intervals of high-intensity activity into your walk and you can both improve your endurance and aerobic capacity as well as give your metabolism a boost. 5 minutes of brisk walking punctuated with 30 seconds of squats, lunges, or crunches, followed by another 5 minutes of walking and then 1 minute of jogging and so on and so forth also spices up your walking routine and makes it a little more fun.