Exercise is important during a person’s senior years, but it sometimes can be hard to get older adults interested in it if they are bored with their regular routines. Today, older adults are increasingly embracing hiking and communities have started creating safer trails, which are great for beginners.
Hiking: 10 Reasons Why Hiking is Recommended for Older People
Increasing Flexibility and Balance
Over the years, older people may experience some changes in their flexibility and balance. Fortunately, walking on slightly uneven terrain challenges core muscles as well as joints in the ankles and feet that help older people maintain their balance. Seniors that are new to hiking should start out on relatively level terrain before you move on to more challenging trails.
Boosting Cardiovascular Health
Hiking is slightly more strenuous than regular walking, particularly if one walks on trails with a slight incline or natural trails. Walking on uneven terrain increases the senior’s heart rate thus making their workout more effective. Hiking may even be modified by choosing different trails or adjusting the senior’s speed to ensure that the right amount of blood flow is moving through their body.
Promoting a Positive Mindset
Exercise has a reputation for increasing endorphins, which are responsible for keeping people in good moods. Hiking takes this attribute a notch higher by giving the older person more exposure to green spaces.
Research reveals that exercising in a natural setting offers a mental boost that impacts the person’s emotions positively for the rest of the day. The best trails for this are those with lots of foliage that gives the person a lovely view while they work out. Ensure that the person has a walking partner to chat with while hiking.
Strengthening Cognitive Skills
Seniors require new experiences to increase neural activity in their brains. To ensure that a senior’s brain is exposed to new stimuli constantly, you can help them pick new trails to go on. Ensure that the person has a friend or professional care worker accompanying them on their adventures until they are familiar with the trail. This way, the person can build memories of new routes until they have an assortment of trails to choose from for their hikes.
Breaking Out of a Boring Routine
Gym equipment such as elliptical machines and treadmills are great options for seniors to use when they are unable to get outside due to their state of health or weather conditions. However, spending about half an hour working out on a machine can be boring. If the senior has a new trail to explore or new flowers and bird species to discover, exercise may suddenly turn into something that they truly look forward to.
Reducing Knee Pain and Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition that millions of adults and half of people age sixty and above suffer from. Osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis in seniors starts when the tissue, referred to as cartilage that pads joint bones starts wearing away.
Trail hiking can be an excellent form of exercise at older age, which can help in the compressing and releasing of cartilage in the knees, which helps circulate synovial fluid that brings oxygen, nourishes the joints, and gets rid of inflammatory waste products.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that primarily affects older women that lack sufficient quantities of calcium. The condition increases the brittleness and porosity of the bone, and reduces bone density, which leads to a susceptibility to broken bones in older adults.
Hiking is a weight-bearing, which requires optimum effort from the human body – jumping, stretching, dodging, and climbing at several intervals. Such a small burst of exercises at regular intervals boosts the bone density thus making bones stronger and reducing their susceptibility to break.
Hiking offers numerous health benefits to both seniors and younger persons, so it is not surprise that walking and hiking are associated with a longer lifespan. You might be surprised by the number of years that walking can add to a person’s life. A study conducted at St. George’s University Hospitals NHF Foundation Trust in London in 2015 found that walking 25 minutes daily added up to seven years to the lifespans of the participants.
Reducing Risk of Disability
Regular walks and hikes don’t just get seniors out of the home but they can actually help them stay at home too. A 2008 study undertaken by the University of Georgia found that regular walks reduced the risk of developing a physical disability in older persons by 41 per cent, which helped participants maintain their independence and age in place.
It Can Be Just as Good as Running
One common misconception about working out is that it is impossible to achieve the benefits of a high-intensity exercise using other less intense activities. A study conducted recently at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory helped disprove this notion. The study also found that as long as study participants used the same number of calories when working out, running and walking were equally effective at managing the cardiovascular health of study participants.
Hiking is a must try activity for all elderly individuals that have embraced a love of the outdoors for the ten reasons outlined here. Nature combined with physical fitness and time with friends and loved ones makes hiking a great exercise option for older people that does not even seem like work.