Walking is the #1 Functional Activity for Older Adults
Functional Movement is defined as the kind of movement designed to serve a functional purpose especially for older people. In other words: movement that will assist with maintaining a healthy daily lifestyle. ADLs: Activities of Daily Living. In order to attain and maintain functional movement a degree of moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity is required throughout life. Some daily functional movements are walking, BTSL (Bending, Twisting, Squatting and Lunging) and good posture.
Walking for seniors is probably the most used daily functional movement. Fitness Experts agree that walking is a great exercise. In fact a daily walk may dramatically improve physical and mental health, help reduce the risk of illness and allow older people to remain independent and living in their own home without the need for assistance.
Older people will greatly benefit with walking. Here are few facts:
- Walking three times a week for approximately 30 minutes may increase cardiovascular fitness by 8 to 15 percent. That is significant if you haven’t been moving much.
- Walking burns calories which is key to lifetime weight management which assists functional movement and better health. Running and walking the same distance has very similar caloric expenditure. The difference is running is much harder on the joints however, this may be faster for some. For most people who have extra poundage (especially those who dislike their belly fat) will find running is 4 times the vertical stress on the joints. In other words, a senior with one extra pound of belly fat will have 4 times the likelihood of overuse injuries or wear and tear on the joints over time.
- A consistent walking regimen can lower blood pressure and often blood pressure has a better reading post walking because of the de-stressing of the body.
- A brisk walk can improve quality of sleep. Especially, when you have a nature walk with fresh air studies have shown that sleep is greatly enhanced.
- Fitness walking is a great form of stress release. If you are a social person, walk with a friend (a safe distance away during Covid-19).
- Walking is a very inexpensive sport that requires only one piece of equipment –supportive and comfortable walking shoes with proper arch and heel support.
- Walking strengthens leg and abdominal muscles and should you have the time or option – you can also add some more stretching and strengthening exercises at convenient stop points (a bridge, a stop sign, a place that you may not disrupt the flow of others).
- Fitness walking is made especially easy with a dog and often they provide the encouragement to go out regularly.
- Walking for seniors will improve stride length, stride speed and mobility.
- Walking may be added to better back programs to alleviate stress and lower back issues.
But there are many activities besides walking that improve functional well-being – so join us for the next articles as we focus on helping our older people step towards a healthier and functional lifestyle.