January 9, 2012
Seniors who track their progress with daily walks have a much better chance to stay on pace with a goal of better fitness. So, too, can the encouragement of a companion or caregiver help keep an older adult on the road to good health.
Q. I just turned 78 and my New Year’s resolution is to get in better shape. I’m finally getting over the initial impact of my wife’s death last year and would like to become more active again. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do and how I could succeed?
Walking is an excellent way for older adults to get in better shape and to stay healthy. And the research evidence is mounting that walking reaps considerable rewards. It can lower body mass index and blood pressure, as well as decrease cholesterol.
One study found that pedometers can help motivate walkers. These are small and inexpensive devices, strapped to the hip, which can measure the number of steps walked each day.
The authors searched databases for studies and articles on this topic, and identified 26 studies with a total of 2,767 participants from eight randomized controlled trials and 18 observational studies. The participants’ average age was 49 years and 85 percent were women. Overall, pedometer users increased their physical activity by 26.9 percent over baseline.
Here’s an interesting finding from the study: having a step-per-day goal was a key predictor of activity. Three studies that did not include a step goal showed no significant improvement in physical activity with pedometer use — in contrast to increases of more than 2,000 steps per day with the use of a 10,000-step-per-day (or other) goal.
So there you have it: buy a pedometer; set a step goal, and get together with family or friends to do some walking. Remember to first check with your doctor to make sure you do not have to be aware of any health concerns.
Contact the local YMCA, fitness center or senior center about walking clubs in your area. If that doesn’t appeal to you, join a neighbor or a friend.
Or consider hiring a companion. The local Home Instead Senior Care® office tries to match the interests of its senior clients to those of its CAREGiversSM. A non-medical companion might be another motivator to get you moving and on the road to better health.
Get helpful tips and articles like these delivered to your email.