Put Some Spring in Your Step | A Walking Program Should Be Fun!
By Sam Crawford
Prior to invention of the office, automobile, and Lazy-Boy recliner, walking was the most basic form of human exercise.
It’s not surprising that study after peer-reviewed study has shown that our modern lack of locomotion has a negative effect on muscles, joints, and synapses, shrinking our blood vessels and expanding our waistlines, especially for those of us over 50. So if you already know why you should get moving, maybe the problem is that you’re not sure how to get started. So check out these tips—call it your Seven-Step Plan—and take advantage of the warming spring weather to get up, get out, and get going.
Step 1: Invent a Schedule
Look ahead on your calendar to the coming weekend. Block out at least an hour on each or both of those days. Absent a real emergency, don’t let anything or anyone encroach on that time. Treat it like a medical appointment—because it is.
Step 2: Get Some Happy Feet
Having the support of good shoes is a necessity from your Day One walk. You may already have some hiding in your closet. If not, make it your mission to check out the local shoe stores and find a comfortable pair—no scrunching, pinching, or rubbing. And pick up some new athletic socks while you’re at it.
Step 3: Discover a Route
Embracing your inner hamster on a treadmill is OK, but adding some fresh air and sunshine to your workout is even better. The idea is to create an interesting outdoor route that takes you in a loop from start to finish.
Step 4: Flap Your Wings
Your legs and lower back benefit from every walk, but don’t leave your upper body out. Carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated or a tennis ball to grip and bounce. Hand weights are good, too, while a squeezable two-pound exercise ball can be a toy to play with as you walk.
Step 5: Savor the Peace
Taking your phone along for a walk is fine, but do yourself a favor by turning off the ringer/vibrate features and sticking it in your pocket. This is your time and the sights, sounds, and smells on your route are part of the experience. Let your mind wander. You might have a new idea or gain a fresh perspective that will make you feel good.
Step 6: Take a Stroll
The average walking speed for most seniors is about 2.5 miles per hour, so you should be able to walk a couple of miles in 60 minutes, with some time to stretch a bit before
and after. But it doesn’t have to be a march or even a hike to start with. Make it a stroll—a comfortable stride at an easy pace. You’ll go further and faster later, but shedding pounds or toning muscles isn’t the point yet. Your initial goal, believe it or not, is to have fun.
Step 7: Embrace the Routine
We humans are creatures of habit and we’re more likely to repeat activities that we actually enjoy. Getting healthier doesn’t have to be a drudge. Even if you start with just a couple of hours this weekend, you’re more likely to expand that time into weekday mornings or afternoons if you’re adding some pleasure to your life. Your distance and pace will naturally increase with regularity, along with the benefits to your overall well-being. Most importantly from the beginning, you might just start feeling a little better about yourself and that’s the first real step to a healthier—and happier—lifestyle.
The most requested and available amenity in planned communities is miles and miles of walking trails through neighborhoods and natural areas. So when you are visiting,
check out the paths to your healthy lifestyle.
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