Walking provides simple path for healthy seniors
By BRENDA EGGERT BRADER
Linda Crawford, left, Sheila Murphy, Marilyn Clark, Diane Katz and Barbara Jones walk to get their morning exercise to build healthy bones and increase stamina inside the Merritt Square Mall.
SENIOR LIFE Darrell Woehler
Once the only mode of getting from point A to point B, walking fell out of favor as humans moved to modern modes of transportation through the years. Today, walking is returning as a benefit to health and seniors have taken up the exercise.
“The benefits of walking, the top five or so, are benefits to muscles and prevents sarcopenia which is muscle loss and improves balance that decreases the risk of falling,” said Dr. Robert Potomski, who practices geriatric medicine in Melbourne. “People who have fallen and fractured a hip, who are older, will not be with us in a year’s time.
“Walking and weight bearing strengthens the bones and prevents osteoporosis as well as keeps the joints more flexible,” Potomski said. “Additionally, you maintain a healthy body weight. It also lowers the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Water walking is a good routine and has resistance (from the water) and helps build up your muscle mass. What you have to watch is the muscle mass as people get older. Walking also reduces depression, anxiety and the onset of dementia. What is healthy for the heart is healthy for the brain.”
If people walk for 30 minutes daily or even four times a week, the body will benefit.
“Walking is good exercise for seniors because you can do it at your own pace,” said Paula Schroeder, Aging Matters of Brevard coordinator of living healthy classes. “It is for people in a lot of pain or not exercisers in the past. You can do it. It is not how far or fast you go, but it is the moving. Just by moving you are lubricating your joints, flexing joints and your cardiovascular is doing better.
“Ideally, you want 30 minutes of activity,” Schroeder said. “Walking is an activity. Go to the shopping mall, beach or all kinds of different places. You can walk and get that benefit of being active. If you aren’t accustomed to walking outside, sit in a chair and do knee rises. That is going to work your lift muscles. I have people that just walk in their house or around their room. Walk any place you feel comfortable walking.”
Some people like to exercise with a group. Other groups walk on the beach. Having that group for support is really helpful.
Schroeder suggests making walking a routine so that is something you do in the morning when you get up, or before or after dinner. Just walk at the same time every day if you can. Try making yourself an assignment like walking three days for 20 minutes at a certain location and then you will follow through.
To join a walking group, call 321-806-3741 to register or go to seniorresourcealliance.org.