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The Senior Walker

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Updated December 09, 2007

I have numerous walking friends over the age of 65. This week (November, 1997) two walking friends here in Oregon are turning 80 years old. Lois Hooker's club celebrated her 80th with the Happy Hooker Hop Walk in Gladstone, Oregon from the senior center. Lois isn't retired, she is still employed providing nursing assistance to frail seniors. She completed walking in all 50 states recently and finished her first marathon at the age of 75.

Boyd Decker is well-known here as The Pink Panther. How many other 80-year olds dress completely in fluorescent pink from hat to waistpack to shoes? Boyd is very colorful as he walks the trails with his wife - often wearing their matching "Double Decker" shirts. Update September, 2006: I still see Boyd at every walk and he makes me give him a hug.

In 1995 I hosted the AVA President's Walk at our volkswalk national convention. I sent out a call for help to set things up at 5 am. When I arrived, there were 10 people over the age of 65 unloading the truck. Once they were done helping, they were off for a morning 10 kilometer walk.

Does walking keep you young and healthy? I'm betting on it! I searched the web and found many articles touting the benefits of walking for seniors. If you need some incentive to get off the couch or want to encourage a loved one to do the same, here are some good starting points.

Walking: and Exercise Adds Healthy Years to Your Life. A study in the November 14, 2005 Archives of Internal Medicine showed that exercise levels directly related to years lived without cardiovascular disease.

Walk and Live Longer: The January 8, 1998 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports on the findings of the Honolulu Heart Study, a study of 8000 men. Over a 12-year period, the study found that walking just two miles a day cut the risk of death almost in half.

Fitness Counts More than Fatness: A study published in the December 5, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fit but fat adults over age 60 lived longer than unfit adults. The study suggests that the best way to live longer is to exercise more, regardless of your body size.

American Volkssport Association: 550 walking clubs throughout the USA, also affiliated with clubs in Canada, Britain, and around the world. These clubs host non-competitive walking events and are enjoyed by many seniors and "kids of all ages." A great way to start walking or to stay walking.

Exercise Guidelines for Adults over Age 65: The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association updated their Physical Activity Guidelines in August 2007. These guidelines are for adults over age 65, and for those age 50 to 64 with a chronic condition, such as arthritis.

As the t-shirt says, "Grandma took up walking three miles a day two years ago and now nobody in the family knows where the heck she is!"

Get Walking

Walking Techniques and Tutorials : Online tutorials on how to begin a walking program.
Healthy Walking: How to walk healthy and how walking can improve your health.
Walking Clubs and Organizations: Links to clubs and walking groups.
Senior Living About.com site
Senior Health About.com site
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