My Mother was never an exercise advocate or devotee. However, she was an explorer; a lover of the great outdoors, and in the last chapters of her life moved to the remote but beautiful Margaree Valley in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. There her exercise consisted of gardening during the summer months and snow shovelling in the winter where record snowfall would make finding her car the ultimate challenge.
One of the most disconcerting things about her tendency to explore was during the summer when she would head off into the woods with her dog to pick wild blueberries. Sometimes these were long hikes afterwhich she would lie down under a tree and nap. “Mom!” I would warn her: “Bears like blueberries too!” But into her 80s and fearless, she was undeterred and continued her berrypicking ventures always making her way home safely through this remote land, exercised, refreshed and laden with blueberries.
Exercise should entail something you enjoy
Which brings us to the subject of exercise for Seniors and the benefits of walking. Weekend warriordom is not something to be encouraged when our “reach” exceeds our true level of fitness. Things don’t have to get extreme and exercise should be consistent and non injurious because who needs tendonitis or a fractured hip? And mobility is something we all value – until we lose it. It’s also something we need to work at because as the saying goes: use it or lose it.
Walking and swimming are two of the most recommended exercises for Seniors. Let’s assess both:
The 7 Benefits of Walking
1) Easing and addressing back pain
2) Lowers Blood Pressure
3) Reduces blood cholesterol
4) Weight bearing exercise contributes to the health of our bones, preventing osteoporosis
5) Reduces estrogen levels in older women which may help prevent breast cancer
6) Reduces the risk of coronary issues such as stroke
7) Improves balance and coordination
Then there’s the added benefit of being outdoors, breathing fresh air, smelling the roses and noticing all the things one misses behind the wheel. All we need to enjoy a brisk walk or any walk is a good pair of walking shoes and appropriate dress.
On the topic of shoes, the recommendation is to buy shoes most suited to walking – or cross trainers. Shoes designed for runners are not the best idea because of a forward balance design which is fine for running but not for walking; that design stressing your legs and lower spine.
Once suited up with proper footwear, just 30 minutes of daily walking reduces excess body fat and boosts endurance. Walking briskly can burn between 100-300 calories in a half hour or 200-600 calories in an hour’s walk. Your body will burn sugar stored as fuel in the first 30 minutes. So the benefits are multiple and compound if you make walking a regular routine.
Abhorrent belly fat also known as visceral fat, the kind that destroys your waistline and raises your risk of diabetes and heart disease, will be burned in the first 45 minutes of a brisk walk.
So what’s not to like about the numerous benefits of simply walking?
For Seniors, swimming offers many of the same benefits as does walking:
1) Improves Heart health; resulting in a stronger, larger heart and improved endurance
2) Swimming is gentle on the joints due to the buoyancy of the water
3) Reduces risk of osteoporosis
4) Increases flexibility
5) Improves muscle strength and tone
6) Is a mood enhancer
7) Swimming strengthens your core muscles which will support and stabilize the body for better balance and better balance means fewer falls, the bane of many Seniors.
Once again you don’t need to invest a lot of money in order to swim year round: a membership at the Y, swimsuit, goggles and a bathing cap should get you going. In the summer if you’re fortunate enough to be close to a body of water, then visit a lake or the ocean.
Then there’s this information on swimming from Zoomer Magazine:
Swimming May Slow Down Aging By Decades – Everything …
The bottom line folks is just get moving!
Don those runners or slip into your swimsuit and reap the many benefits of exercise. It’s fun. It can be social and you will look and feel so much better and younger for it.