What Are The Recommended Steps Per Day for Seniors?
The human body is designed for walking. For thousands of years, it was our primary method of transportation. And now, in modern times, the benefits of walking are especially important because of the common lifestyle that includes a sedentary job, labor saving devices and vehicles for transportation. At this time in our history, and as a senior, there’s never been a more important time to get up and go for a walk. Decades of research supports the health benefits of walking, and the recommended steps per day for seniors.
The Health Benefits of Walking Every Day
Walking is widely known to be one of the very best exercises for seniors. It’s low impact, low cost and low risk for injury. Plus, the benefits are many. Walking can:
- Improve circulation, lower blood pressure and strengthen the heart muscle
- Burn calories and help manage body weight
- Ease joint pain and reduce lower back pain by strengthening core muscles
- Strengthen bones and help fight osteoporosis
- Improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falling
- Boost your immune system
- Improve your mood, reducing anxiety and depression
- Improve cognitive health
Before You Get Started
With any new fitness routine, consult your doctor before you begin. Once you have the go-ahead, plan out a route that has manageable terrain. Choose a path that is smooth and has few obstacles, like deep curbs or busy streets. Wear comfortable clothing that is weather appropriate. Make sure you have quality sneakers that fit you properly. That’s the most important, and really only equipment that’s a must. But to accurately keep track of your steps, you’ll want a pedometer.
The Benefits of a Pedometer
A pedometer is a step counting device that you wear or carry with you. Today, any smartphone you have likely comes with a pedometer app or you can easily download the app of your choice. Counting your steps is the best way to measure your activity level and track your progress as you improve over time. It gives you a specific result that you can compare to your goals. And, if you keep it on you, you can monitor your activity level throughout the entire day.
There’s also a device called an accelerometer. This is a more advanced type of pedometer that also tracks your speed and distance. Accelerometers can be more expensive, but you may benefit from this additional information. But even if you don’t have access to either device, the recommended goal is to work up to walking for 30 minutes every day.
Remember, you don’t have to walk for thirty minutes on your first day. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Start with a time goal that feels comfortable for you, and stop when you want to rest. Even ten minutes per day is a great start. Gradually add more steps, and choose a pace that feels safe and comfortable. While you’re walking, pay attention to how you’re feeling, especially if you have a specific health challenge. If you experience any pain, stop and rest. If you begin to feel weak or dizzy, find a safe place to sit down. When you’re ready, head home and call your doctor. It’s also important to stay hydrated, so drink plenty of water.
If you use a cane or a walker, that’s no problem. These can help you with balance and can ease impact and joint pain. You may need to modify your pace and distance, but as long as your doctor says it’s okay, don’t let a cane or walker stop you from getting your steps in.
How Many Steps?
Find a distance and pace that’s comfortable for you, and then set realistic goals for increasing your steps as your abilities improve.
- Many experts agree that the recommended steps per day for seniors is 7,000-10,000.
- People who live with a disability or chronic illness can still benefit from an active lifestyle, and depending on individual abilities may strive for 5,500 steps per day.
- Many seniors fall into a middle range of 6,500 to 8,500 steps per day.
Walking Groups for Seniors
The only way to reach your step goals is to find a comfortable routine and stick to it. One of the best ways to do this is to find friends to walk with. A walk can become a great daily ritual with a spouse. You can look forward to going outside and getting some fresh air. Or, if the weather is bad, head to a nearby shopping mall. Using your walking time as a social gathering gives you a great reason to get together. You can stay safe and look out for each other, and you’re more likely to keep up your routine if you’re held accountable by others. You can even walk together while practicing social distancing during these uncertain times.
There are a lot of walking clubs for seniors out there. If you’re looking to team up with people, then you can look no further than The Ridge Senior Living communities in Salt Lake City and Holladay, UT. They have many walking clubs and so many other wellness programs to help you thrive.
Have questions? We’d love to talk with you. Contact us today about locations, amenities and programs.