These days, there seems to be an exercise modality for every condition. The choice of cardio, strength, endurance, and stretch is available in every gym and program. The thought of covering all the bases can be exhausting before you even start.
Achievable fitness goals for seniors
Whether your goal is to improve general health, gain fitness, reduce pain and inflammation, or lose weight there is one form of exercise that can be easily incorporated into your daily life.
And it is something most of us can do, without spending a cent or having equipment, and that we have done and can do for most of our lives. The benefits of simply walking should not be underestimated.
The benefits of exercise for people over the age of 50
Studies show that walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduces the risk for cancer and chronic disease, and improves endurance, circulation, and posture.
According to a study conducted at Harvard, walking as exercise counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes contribute to body weight. They discovered that, among the participants who walked briskly for 30 minutes a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
The benefits of walking for people over the age of 50
As we age, most people develop aches and pains that can also benefit from regular walking. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking a kilometre per day can help prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them
Walking is especially useful in winter as it boosts immune function. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who didn’t. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
Staying active with RCA Villages
At several RCA built retirement villages in Victoria, residents formed walking groups, enjoying the social aspect of staying fit and healthy. At Martha Cove Retirement Village in Safety Beach, the walking group gathers at twilight in the daylight saving months.
“We meet at the Clubhouse at 5pm and bring a packed meal so we stop and have a picnic, or sometimes we buy dinner on the way. We try to cater for different abilities and sometimes carpool to walk the lovely tracks on the Mornington Peninsula. We recently walked from Portsea back beach to London Bridge,” said Anne George, co-founder of the group.
“Some members of our group have been involved for 10 years. We use the bus to explore the neighbourhood, and walk for around 40 minutes, and then enjoy a coffee together. The social aspect is very important in our group.”
So this winter, pull on your walking shoes, pop on a beanie and enjoy the great outdoors, one step at a time.