Commentary by Katrina Archer
If you are an avid walker, keep up the good work! Walking is a great, low impact way to improve cardiovascular health, but it is just one component of a well-rounded exercise program. Muscular strength and power naturally decline as we age, and the rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60. Strength and power training have proven to be beneficial additions to the older adult’s exercise routine.
As an ACSM-certified personal trainer working with older adults at Motion 4 Life Fitness, I often hear these three frustrations:
- “I walk regularly, why isn’t that enough exercise?”
- “I’ve been walking for exercise, but I still struggle when climbing stairs, carrying groceries and getting up from a chair.”
- “I’m worried about my balance.”
So, why is it important to add strength training to your walking routine? Although walking will help with cardiovascular health and help maintain endurance, muscular strength, power and flexibility have a tremendous impact on your ability to enjoy life to the fullest. For example, climbing stairs requires muscular strength and power, which also can improve your golf or pickleball game. Everyday activities like gardening, biking and even walking become easier when you have a well-rounded exercise program — which, by the way, will reduce your risk of injury.
Take a moment to reflect on the last time you were with your grandkids. Were you able to get down on the ground and play with them – and get back up? Were you able to lift them for a hug? Were you able to play catch or kick a ball? As we age, our bodies change, and while we think we can still do what we did when we were younger, at times like these, we realize it often is not the case.
For many of us as we age, we plan to travel. Are you worried about that upcoming trip? Walking through busy airports and moving through new environments can be challenging. Carrying luggage requires strength and balance as we maneuver through airports and hotels.
I’ve had the joy of watching my older adult clients improve their balance, strength and mobility. They are often amazed at the difference in their lives. So, keep up your walking routine and try to add in a little strength conditioning and balance with the guidance of a trainer. You deserve to have an active and mobile lifestyle.
Archer is a certified personal trainer for Motion 4 Life Fitness in Carmel.