Growing old is not for the timid! You might hear this in conversation between the more mature in your midst. What does that mean for active transportation?
Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. (World Health Organization)
Regular exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing some diseases and disabilities that develop as people grow older. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking. (The National Institute on Aging). Less than 5% of adults reach 30 minutes a day of physical activity. About 21% reach the minimum recommended levels. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
The Changing the Way we Age Campaign states the following premise:
As it stands now, older people are told (and therefore tell themselves) on a regular basis that they’re too old to engage in many life-affirming activities that contribute to society, such as working or going back to work if they wish; gaining new knowledge; learning new activities; and being physically active. This simply is not true for most people.
The overall results of this perspective reflects in the amount of physical activity levels that the 65+ GENERATIONS EXPERIENCE:
So, how much physical activity do the more mature adults need? According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), if you are 65+ and have no limiting health conditions:
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
Getting started with physical activity usually carries some challenge- One of the simplest, is to just walk out the door and around the block. Start small. See if you can add on after a week or so. Find out what time of the day works best for you.
Consider purchasing or finding a pedometer. Often, health care facilities may have promotions to hand them out. Otherwise they cost about $10-30.00. If you would like to learn more about purchasing a recommended pedometer, check out the “5 Best Pedometers.” Start by measuring the number of steps you make in a day or on a walk. See if you can add to the total the next week. If you would like to participate in a national online monitoring, go to: www.americaonthemove.org
How many steps? Well, one common number is “10,000” steps a day. For the less able, target 6,000 to 8,500 steps/day. The real key lies in ways that you find to increase from your starting point. The goal is to reach about 30 minutes of activity at least five days per week.
Walking does not require much gear, yet consider a good stable pair of walking shoes. You might want to consider walking sticks or poles. They help with stability and keep some weight off of your hips.
Orienteering or GeoCaching invites the mental as well as the physical side of walking/trekking. Orienteering USA provides a wealth of information to get you started. Take part in the “World’s Largest Treasure Hunt” at Geocaching‘s web site. Geocaching can be done almost anywhere. It involves a bit of strategy, a GPS unit, and is best done in a group (for maximum fun). Geocaching traverse’s the world in its scope.
Europe captured the idea of cross-generational activity. The idea basically encourages hands reaching across the generations to involve one another. When intergenerational interaction occurs, people learn the value one another brings with them. People feel less isolated. Aging has its challenges, and maintaining a sense of value is so important. Reminds me of the 2015 movie starring Robert DeNIro, “The Intern” in which Robert DeNiro retires and finds himself at a loss of what to do. HE finally gets to where he considers getting back into the work world as an “intern.” Great lesson on not reading a book by its cover! In terms of physical activity, have the mature in the neighborhood start walking youngsters to school. Invite someone older to walk with you. Look for opportunities to include them in some way. Create some intergenerational events in your community. If you need ideas, check out AmericaWalks or other national organizations for ideas and suggestions.
Bottom line- get going and get moving!