Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise for older adults, especially if you are venturing out for exercise for the first time in years. Walking can be low-impact and can also be kicked up a few notches once you limber up and build more stamina. The problem is that many seniors may not want to walk by themselves. If you are one of these, why not look for a walking group in your area? If there isn’t one, create your own. Chances are that there are quite a few people seeking lively company to keep walking fun.
Walking has quite a few benefits going for it besides being a great cardiovascular exercise. You can easily walk with a partner or a group for safety. Walking groups can relieve boredom of the same old routes; plus it is fun and the other people in the group are great motivators to keep you from slacking off. Socialization is a blast and you can make new friends while keeping your commitment to better health in focus.
If you want to form your own walking group, spread the word. Talk with your neighbors and other senior friends. In addition, try these ideas as well:
1. Advertise – If you live in a housing development or apartment complex, chances are that there is a clubhouse or community center. Post some fliers in your immediate area advertising the walking group. The local libraries, senior center, churches and other community centers in the area are also great places to post a flier.
Advertise an initial planning meeting for the walking group and hold it in a library meeting room or public area. Include an email address or phone number so that people can call with questions. You can also utilize free calendars or submit something to your local newspaper to advertise the walking group.
2. Your initial meeting – Get an understanding of what everyone is looking for in a walking group. Poll their expectations and decide as a group your walking schedule. Choose where you will walk, how far you will walk and how many times a week you will walk.
Try and come up with a few different routes that will please the majority of the people present who are interested. In addition, no one wants to lose ground in case of inclement weather and there should also be occasional meetings and a basic guideline of rules. Here are a few things you should decide as a group:
1. Will you have an alternate place such as a mall or indoor track in case of inclement weather?
2. Will you want to come up with outdoor walks only or can you mix it up with some indoor venues?
3. Should regular meetings be held or can an email blast or phone tree suffice for information sharing?
4. If this is a walking group, should iPods, headphones and cell phones be banned to promote true socialization while walking?
5. Should the group be informal like whoever wants to walk that day just show up?
6. Does anyone want to be the group record keeper, tracking progress of members or should everyone just keep track on their own?
In addition, to setting up schedules, you should all talk about walking safety too. From how to dress in certain types of weather to stretching and cooling off and warming up, there are plenty of things to consider. Proper walking techniques such as how to hold your arms and body when you walk should be covered as well as the best athletic shoe for walking.
Think of ideas to keep the group motivated in the coming months. Organize socials such as lunch or dinner. Participate in community events together such as walk-a-thons. Invite guest speakers to meetings to talk about health and walking issues pertinent to seniors. As the creator of the walking group, you should come up with periodic meetings and events to keep your walking group motivated and in touch with each other. Half the fun is socializing and getting to know one another. What a great way to spend retirement!