As we get older, our health continues to weaken. Every time we take a trip to the doctor’s office we pray nothing new comes up. Time and time again we hear the same old story, “you need to make sure you exercise to stay healthy.” Whether you have hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol, your doctor is going to prescribe exercise! So how does an elderly person stay fit? Walking is everyone’s favorite activity! It is often the safest and easiest type of physical activity to participate as we age. Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy and safe while walking.
Walking Tip #1: Warm up and Cool down
It may seem silly and useless, but taking time to warm up and cool down before walking is very important. It allows an increase of blood flow to your muscles. This increases the oxygen levels available to your muscles. As you exercise, your muscles use the oxygen to create energy. If the oxygen is depleted, your body creates lactic acid which causes pain and your muscles to get tired faster. A warm up will help prevent this from happening. Stretching is an import part of a warm up and cool down. Having tight muscles can cause many different problems and can be painful. Stretching can also help prevent injuries.
Walking Tip #2: Buy a good pair of shoes that fits!
We all want to watch our budget, but walking shoes is not a place to cut corners. You should shop for your shoes in the afternoon. Your feet will swell throughout the day; thus, to ensure you have a properly fitted shoes you should avoid buying them in the mornings. Also make sure you have ample space in the toe box. You should be able to wiggle your toes around in your shoes. Try on several different brands and different sizes and walk around with them on both feet. This is the only way to find a comfortable shoe!
Walking Tip #3: Your feet should not hurt!
You may experience some pain when you begin your new walking schedule. You should pay close attention because this is not a normal occurrence. Self treatment may lead to more significant problem. You should contact a podiatric physician who will be able to accurately asses your pain and treatment options.
Walking Tip #4: Walk on softer surfaces!
As we get older, we lose our protective fat pad on the bottom of our feet. This increases the pressure on our bones and may lead to stress fractures. These types of injuries are more common in women but can also occur in men. Try to walk on grass, or dirt paths rather than hard cement if possible. Through softer ground may be better for stress fractures, make sure the ground is even to prevent ankle sprains or falls.
Walking Tip #5: Make a plan and get a friend!
Changing your lifestyle to include exercise is a huge undertaking. It is not easy to always stay motivated. It works best to build a plan and schedule that you can adhere to the best. Talk over your plan with your doctor to make sure it is appropriate for your health concerns. Find a friend or local walking groups to join. This will make the experience more enjoyable and rewarding!