American Chiropractic Association urges the key to senior fitness is to keep moving

Ready for the rocker at 70? Not these days. Americans are living longer and making more of their later years. One key is exercise.

“Perhaps the most debilitating influence in people’s health as they age is a sedentary life,” said Dr. Richard Brassard, president of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). “Exercise of some type is all but mandatory.”

Otherwise, an individual may set him or herself up for broken bones, circulation problems caused by atrophying blood vessels, and a myriad of other physical problems associated with aging.

“Exercise, however, can improve a person’s mobility, digestive processes and circulation. It can also reduce anxiety. Add proper nutrition and you have the makings of a naturally healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Brassard. “Following a healthy diet is another way of extending your golden years as long as possible.”

Walking

 A sedentary lifestyle has a debilitating influence on people’s health as they age, so exercise is imperative but walking accomplishes so much more:

Improving cardiovascular endurance and reducing the risk of heart disease

Toning muscles of the lower body

Walking improves elasticity in blood vessels, which makes them less susceptible to formation of aneurysms or rupture.

thighs and calves for the first week or two. If you experience more than soreness, check with your doctor.

Selecting Shoes

Except for a good pair of walking shoes, it requires virtually no equipment.

The first order of business when starting a walking program is to select the right shoes. Too many people choose fashion over function when purchasing running shoes, not realizing that poor-fitting shoes can do more than hurt their stride; they can also lead to pain throughout the body.

Make sure the shoes you purchase fit properly. Select shoes with plenty of cushioning in the soles to absorb the impact.

Shop for sneakers at the end of the day or after a workout when your feet are generally at their largest.

When trying on shoes, be sure to wear them for at least 10 minutes at the store.

Once you have purchased a pair of shoes, don’t walk them into the ground. The best time to replace old shoes, experts agree, is from 300 and 500 miles.

Getting Started

Walking just 12 minutes every other day can offer important health benefits. But in order to increase your longevity, try to eventually work up to 30 minutes, five days per week.

Start with one-third of a mile per day - one-sixth out and one-sixth back. (Measure the distance with your car.) Do that three days a week for a month, then double the distance, working gradually up to at least one mile a day, three days a week.

Experts generally agree that to be considered “active,” adults should try to take 10,000 steps each day. Wearing a pedometer is an easy way to track progress.

Some important tips:

Move your arms freely, in coordination with the opposite leg.

Don’t stoop your head or look down as you walk. That challenges the normal forward curve of your neck, which, in turn, causes you to carry your weight improperly.

Don’t carry weights or dumbbells while walking. They’re better used as a separate part of an exercise routine.

Expect a little soreness in the thighs and calves during the first week or two. If you experience more than soreness, check with your doctor.

Walk briskly, with “purpose.” Simply sauntering, while relaxing and enjoyable, is not an effective form of cardiovascular exercise.

Of course, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Walking Surfaces

Some walking surfaces are better than others on your musculoskeletal system.

Walking on a cushioned or rubberized track is ideal, because the cushioning of this type of track absorbs most of the impact of your walking. Many recreation centers this type of track free of charge.

Grass is another good surface, but watch out for hidden dips or holes in the ground.

Walking on a surface with no give, such as concrete or a mall floor, is not your best choice, because this type of surface will not absorb much of the impact your body will experience. If you do choose to walk on such a surface, be extra careful to select highly cushioned shoes.

Pain and Injury

While you may experience pain or injury in a particular area, such as a knee or a hip, the root of the problem may lie somewhere else. Injuries of this nature are not regional, or isolated, but systemic.

A problem in the foot or ankle can create an imbalance in every step, leading to discomfort or injury that moves to the knees, hips, low back, or elsewhere. If you suffer from pain beyond typical muscle soreness, your doctor of chiropractic can diagnose and treat your pain or injury and get you back into the swing of your walking routine. 

Your doctor of chiropractic can also help customize a wellness program that is right for you and has the expertise to help keep you in the mainstream of life.

For more information on chiropractic, visit ACA’s Web site at http://www.acatoday.com or call 800-986-4636.

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