Walking Tips for Seniors

Walking may be the best fitness activity for many seniors givern the relatively low physical risks and the enormous long-term health benefits. These 'Walking Tips for Seniors' are designed to reduce the risk of often preventable foot and ankle injuries and ailments that could lead to inactivity, and prohibit many seniors from realizing the tremendous benefits of walking.

The Foot Health Foundation of America (the Foundation) -- the education arm of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) -- has issued guidelines for seniors in response to the recent release of two major long-term studies confirming the beneficial effects of regular walking on a person's overall health and well-being.

One study revealed that regular exercise walking lowered the risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease and -- in general -- prolonged life.  Increasing the walking distance from just one to two miles produced even greater results. The second study found that taking brisk half-hour walks just six times a month appeared to cut the risk of death by 44 percent, and even occasional exercisers were 30 percent less likely to die than sedentary folks.

"Now -- more than ever -- we are urging Americans to get up and go. These tips should serve as a great starting point, from choosing a proper walking sneaker to knowing where and when to walk," commented Dr. Marc Lenet, DPM, president of APMA. "To ensure a successful and safe walking program, seniors should also consult their primary care and/or podiatric physician -- especially if they have a family history of heart disease, poor circulation or diabetes, or if they have any pre-existing foot conditions."

Benefits of Walking

In addition to the long-term benefit of prolonging life, the Foundation points out that seniors can experience many short-term benefits from walking. Walking:

--  Controls weight, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A brisk walk can burn up to 100 calories per mile or 300 calories per hour.  Walking is the perfect complement to a sensible diet to lose weight and keep it off;

--  Improves cardiovascular fitness and circulation. Walking gets the heart beating faster to transport oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the muscles; and increases the size and improves the efficiency of  tiny vessels that supply blood for cellular respiration;

--  Facilitates medical rehabilitation and recovery from many ailments, including heart attack;

--  Generates a sense of well-being, and can relieve depression, anxiety and stress by naturally producing endorphins, the body's natural tranquilizer;

Getting started

The Foundation recommends setting appropriate and realistic goals, pacing oneself, choosing an appropriate and "like-able" activity, and paying attention to what the body, including the feet, reveals. Drinking fluids on hot days or during very strenuous activities to avoid heat stroke and heat exhaustion is vitally important.

For more information on walking or general foot care, please call 800-FOOTCARE or visit the APMA's Web site at www.apma.org. Founded in 1912, American Podiatric Medical Association is the leading professional society for foot and ankle specialists in the nation.  With more than 9,000 active members, the Association has components in 53 locations in the U.S. and its Territories. The Foot Health Foundation of America -- a 501(c)(3) organization -- is a national health initiative of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

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