How to Keep Your Walking Strength STRONG!

 

John Paul Ouvrier

John Paul Ouvrier

Hello everyone; blessings of wonderful health from the Wizard of Youth. I’d like to discuss a simple concept to keep your walking strength STRONG!

In my travels, I meet many older adults who will tell me about their day and how they walked. Many times, especially within retirement communities, they will tell me that they walk while doing activities such as going to the mail box, going to dinner, etc.  And while these walks to and from these events or errands are certainly commendable, they don’t do very much to keep you strong.  Please let me explain.

Let’s imagine that your activities could be drawn as a circle, and let’s say that the bigger the circle the more activities you are doing. That’s circle one: The Circle of Activity.  Activities could include, shopping, going to the car, seeing friends, etc.  Activities can be summarized by all the things you want to and do during the day.

Now, let’s imagine there is a second circle, and this circle will represent your ability. So the bigger this circle is, the more able you are to do.  Let’s call this: The Circle of Ability.  Abilities would be defined as; you have the ability to walk one mile, or climb 2 flights of stairs, or you have the strength to drag the hose over to the garden to water the plants.  Abilities can be summarized as the needed strength, stamina, flexibility, etc., to participate in the activities you like.

The goal is simple:

Keep your Circle of Abilities bigger than your Circle of Activities. 

Let me give you an example:

Mrs. Jones lives a long way from the dining room in her retirement campus. It’s good exercise for her to go down to dinner every night and walk back and forth.  The problem is, that’s the longest walk she does every day.  After a few years of this, her body can’t walk any farther.  And one day she hurts her big toe, and discovers because she has to walk more slowly and take smaller steps, that she’s not strong enough to get back to her apartment without resting.

Because Mrs. Jones never walked any farther than the dining room and back, the slightest change in her stride is enough to exhaust her current ability and interfere with her walking. And sadly, she wrongly thinks she’s now old and weak!

This is one of the most pervasive problems within the senior populations; seniors experiencing a physical setback and then wrongly assuming they’re weak and old. This is a classic example of someone’s abilities not being able to keep up with their activities.  So what happens to Mrs. Jones?  She begins to do fewer activities, which gives her fewer abilities, and thus begins a very common downward spiral.  She does less and less, and her strength goes downwards.

How can she avoid this? Easily.

Separate your walking exercise from your daily activities.

Schedule a walk, everyday, that goes farther, and demands more from you than your daily activities do. For example, if your daily activities have you walking a total of ¼ of a mile each day, then plan your walking to have you go a full ½ of a mile at a time.  In other words stay much stronger than your activities will ever demand of you, and you won’t lose your strength in case your activities end up being much more demanding!

I am always amazed by the person who exercises with 5 lb. dumbbells, and then can’t understand why they hurt their back picking up 20 lb. bag of groceries. If your activities demand you need the strength to pick up something heavy, then your exercise (your abilities) must have you working harder so you don’t hurt yourself.  In the example above, Mrs. Jones could have avoided all of this if she had of put in an extra walk every day; maybe one longer walk to the dining room and back without resting.  Then she would have had the extra stamina!

In conclusion: Please separate your exercise, especially your walking, from your daily activities, and then always walk farther than those activities demand, and you’ll keep your walking strength STRONG for many years to come!

~Because you’re stronger than you think, and you can do more than you know!~

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John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or advice. The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice.  Contact him at John@wizardofyouth.com and bring him in to entertain your audiences!   http://wizardofyouth.com and  http://fitness4charity.org


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