“I don’t know what I can do to lose weight.” Mom said, looking sadly at her doctor. “I really don’t eat very much any more, but I can’t seem to get rid of my belly.”
The doctor nodded. “I see this all the time,” he explained. “The problem isn’t with your diet. You need to focus on getting fit. If you can start and stick to a regular exercise routine, you’ll find that your stomach will flatten out, and you’ll also have a lot more energy.”
I tried unsuccessfully to imagine Mom joining a gym, and going to step aerobics classes. At 70, she was still fairly active, but she had never been a fan of exercise. However, the doctor’s advice was surprisingly simple: walk.
Create A Walking Routine
It turns out that walking is a great way for older individuals to improve their physical fitness, since it’s a low impact exercise. Additionally, walking regularly can reduce the risk of heart disease, protect against the onset of diabetes, and guard the brain against dementia and memory loss. Mom’s doctor gave her the following tips for developing a good walking routine:
- Start small. Most individuals derive the maximum benefits from walking 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. However, that may not be a reasonable starting point for everyone. If walking for 30 minutes is too exhausting , start with 5 or 10 minutes instead, and build up to 30 minutes as time progresses. Alternatively, try taking two 15-minute walks per day rather than taking one 30-minute walk.
- Build walking into daily activities. Don’t park as close as possible to grocery store or mall entrances. Instead, park farther away so that you can get in some walking time. Visit the local park, or engage in other outdoor activities.
- Purchase appropriate shoes. Individuals who walk regularly should have comfortable, supportive, well-fitting shoes that have plenty of cushioning.
- Keep a walking log. Most individuals are more likely to stay motivated if they log their progress by noting the times and distances walked each day.
- Purchase a pedometer. Wearing a pedometer is another great way that seniors can track their progress and see whether they are reaching their goals. Individuals who take 10,000 steps or more are considered “active.”
After her doctor’s visit, mom and I discussed whether she should buy a treadmill, but in the end she decided to join a group of her friends who meet regularly at the local mall and walk during early morning hours. Now that she has started a regular routine, she loves it! She’s able to socialize with her friends, and they almost always finish their walks with a cup of coffee in the food court. She has lost five pounds since she started walking, and has more energy than ever. Not only that, but she’s finally sleeping through the night again!
Of course, if you are considering a regular routine of walking, be sure to consult your doctor before you begin such a program.
We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Houston, please call us at 832 379-4700 or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff supervising more than 100 quality-trained home care personnel covering the Houston, Texas area.