Embark on a journey with purpose and gusto
Many older adults face barriers to keeping active. Bad weather, unsafe sidewalks or neighborhoods, fear of traffic and lack of public washrooms and rest stops keep many people who could use some physical activity trapped at home. But walking is too important to your health to simply stop doing it. Here’s what walking can do for you and how you can put your best foot forward every day.
Several research studies show the positive effects of walking on health.
- Walking 30 minutes a day lengthened life by 1.3 years and added 1.1 more years without cardiovascular disease. People who exercised more intensely gained 3.7 years of life and added 3.3 more years without cardiovascular disease.
- Walking 2 miles a day cut the risk of death almost in half. One study found that walkers’ risk of death from cancer was especially lower and that walkers were less likely to die in the 12 years after the study.
- A 12-week walking intervention of 30 minutes per day, five days per week, produced significant increases in functional capacity and decreased blood pressure.
- A 6-week walking intervention of 30 minutes per day, five days per week, altered body fat distribution, reduced anxiety and tension, increased aerobic fitness and increased confidence in walking.
Even a small amount of activity can improve health regardless of age or gender. As you age, weight-bearing activities such as walking become increasingly important to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
Seniors facing barriers to walking should consider community mall walking programs. Mall walking is a new strategy for physical activity among older adults that also offers social support. It’s a great way to get the benefits of walking without increasing your risk of injury.
Walking Safety Tips
Here are some important health and safety tips so you can start your walking program off on the right foot.
- Don’t over do it. Allow your body to adjust to the new activity by gradually increasing the duration and frequency of your workouts.
- Wear appropriate shoes. Select a shoe that offers adequate stability and cushioning.
- Choose the right intensity. Your breathing should be elevated, but you should not feel out of breath. Use the Talk Test to help determine your intensity level: If you can’t answer a question, you are walking too fast. If you can have a full conversation, you are walking too slowly.
- Avoid pain. Walking shouldn’t hurt. If you experience any kind of muscle, joint, chest or head pain, consult your physician right away.
- Time yourself. Wear a watch to track your time spent walking. Set small goals to gradually increase the amount of time you walk each week.
- Always warm-up and cool-down. A proper warm-up prepares your joints, muscles and heart for exercise. A proper cool-down helps return blood pressure and heart rate to resting states, prevents muscle soreness and reduces the chance of injury.
Mall Walking Programs in Calgary
CrossIron Mills Mall Walking Program
Offered through Highland PCN
Registration on Tuesdays 8-9:30am in the Fire Court (Near Entrace 2)
Kinesiologist-led Walks on Tuesdays
Self-Directed Walks daily 7-9am
Monthly Health Education Session on the First Tuesday of each month
261055 CrossIron Blvd, Rockey View
Marlborough Mall Walking Program
Offered through Mosaic PCN
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 8am-10am
3800 Memorial Dr. NE
Register at Customer Service
No Formal Program
These malls allow people to walk around before stores open and any time during the day
2525 36th St. NE
Hours: Open 7:30am (north doors)
North Hill Mall
1632 14th Ave. NW
Hours: Monday – Friday 8am-10am
100 Anderson Rd. SE
Register at Customer Service
Hours: Open 7am (north doors)
Beddington Towne Square
201 8120 Beddington Blvd. NW
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 7am and Sunday at 8am
Chinook Centre Mall
6455 MacLeod Tr. SW
Hours: Open at 7am
901 64th Ave. NE
Hours: Open 7:30am
Deer Valley Mall
1221 Canyon Meadows Dr. SE
Hours: Open 7am
3625 Shaganappi Tr. NW
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday 6:30am and Sunday at 9am