Have you noticed that things are getting harder as we age? Like getting up off the floor or from your knees? Maybe you can no longer reach the top shelf in the kitchen or you get out of breath at the simplest little activity? The depressing fact is that it isn’t going to get any better. Really depressing when you know that you’ve worked all your life and thought you were going to do all these amazing things when you retired and now find it hurts or you just can’t do that any more. The solution might be a simple as taking a walk.
When I was in high school, my grandmother watched me doing the splits for a modern dance routine and told me something never forgotten. “If you do that every single day, when you are my age, you’ll still be able to.” I scoffed, as most teenagers would, at the thought of actually getting old. I did not follow her advice, of course, and now wish I had. What I did do is touch my hands flat to the floor every day – and still do in retirement!
The good news is that it’s not too late to start something and keep doing it. One of the best, and easiest, things you can do is walk. With so many benefits, walking is a great way to:
– boost your cardiovascular health
– increase muscle strength
– increase bone density and improve balance
– lower your blood pressure and blood sugar
– increase your metabolism to maintain or reach a healthy weight
– exercise the dog – she wants to go too!
But first –
– get a physical and see if the doctor agrees that a walking plan is approved
– get good walking shoes that lace up and wear socks to protect your tender feet
– wear sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable non-constricting clothing
– decide where you will walk and how long. In bad weather you can join a mall-walk for an indoor workout. Start by walking to the corner or around the block. Walk for 10 minutes and then head back, increasing your time and distance.
– you can walk on a treadmill – while you listen to music or watch TV. (Personally, I like walking in the fresh air and hate the treadmill.)
– and, really important, take your cell phone in case you need to call for help.
Walking has been a journey for me. It’s been a way to reconnect with my son who joins me every day for our 2 1/2 mile journey. We take a bag of carrots for the horses we pass along the way. They run up to the fence when they see us coming!
When you are able, go online and find a local “Rails to Trails” project where abandoned train tracks have been pulled up and a walking path installed. The trails are flat, sometimes paved, and you will meet other walkers taking advantage of the projects.
Start small if walking seems daunting. To the mailbox and back. Around the block. Then two blocks. Then time yourself and see if you can do it quicker. And do it every single day. Every single day.