When one hears the word “exercise” it often conjures up thoughts about crowded gyms, a long boring run, or some other sweat-filled, breathless activity. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way.
In fact, taking a brisk walk is a safe way to get your heart rate up and get some exercise.
Which is why the American Heart Association started National Walking Day. The goal of this annual campaign that takes place on the first Wednesday in April is to remind people of the health benefits of taking a walk.
While walking is good for everyone. This is an especially great activity for our elderly loved ones.
You see, as we age, the exercise our bodies need and can handle changes greatly, especially for those aged 65 and older. For this age group, health experts recommend at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week.
That might sound like a lot, but when you break it down, that’s only 30 minutes a day.
So, what constitutes “moderate aerobic exercise”? Pretty much anything that gets your senior’s heart rate up including walking.
The key is to keep your elderly loved one’s heart rate between 50-85% of their maximal heart rate for the duration of the 30 minutes.
To find your elderly loved one’s maximal heart rate, subtract their age from 220. If you don’t feel like doing the math, don’t worry. Just glance over the chart of target exercise heart rates below:
- 55 years of age 83-140 beats per minute
- 60 years of age 80-136 beats per minute
- 65 years of age 78-132 beats per minute
- 70 years of age 75-128 beats per minute
Not only is maintaining a regular walking routine with your elderly loved a good way to keep them active, it helps strengthen their muscles, prevent weight gain, improve balance, and lowers their risk of a fall, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Convinced you need to get your senior walking now? Great. Here’s 7 things you need to know to get the most out of your walking routine.
Wear the Right Shoes
The first step to a good walking routine is to have a comfortable pair of shoes. Walking shoes should be supportive, fit snug to prevent blisters, and have a good grip on the sole.
Use the Buddy System
Walking alone is not only boring, it can be dangerous. Make sure your elderly loved one has someone they can walk with. If no one comes to mind, you might google walking clubs in their area.
You might be thinking; do I really need to bring water for a simple walk. And the answer is yes! Making sure your elderly loved one stays hydrated is critical at all times.
Walk and Talk
Finding the right pace to get your heart rate to the right level can be tough without a heart rate tracker. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a pace that feels like an equivalent amount of work as climbing a flight of stairs. At this pace your elderly loved one should be able to talk without being too short of breath.
Use Your Mobility Device
If your elderly loved one uses a walker or cane, make sure they are set to the right height for them to safely use. In addition to helping them walk, these devices provide stability and help take a load off of the joints.
Plan Your Route
We recommend planning a walking route that is familiar to you or your loved one and that is relatively flat and free of dangerous obstacles. Malls often provide a safe, comfortable, and dry environment to walk in.
Finally, if you or your loved one is feeling too tired, take a break. Staying active isn’t a competition and pushing yourself too hard will only result in pain and injuries.
If you still have questions and concerns about how to help your elderly loved one stay active, please feel free to contact us. We can help your family establish a plan to personally accommodate your loved one needs.
Wiser Home Care Services: Care for the ones you love!