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Poor Living Conditions Keeping Seniors from Walks

By Daniel @ LivingSenior - August 19, 2013

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While many senior living communities are offering more services, such as computer rooms and classes for their residents, one important thing is being lost in the shuffle: their ability to walk. Walking tends to be the go-to exercise for seniors, but when there are poor living conditions outside their rooms at the senior living community, it is keeping them from being able to walk properly. This is a major disadvantage for seniors who rely on walking to maintain their physical health.

The Importance of Walking

Walking is considered a primary exercise for senior living. Most seniors are encouraged to walk on a regular basis, even up to two times a day. It helps keep them healthy, active, lowers their blood pressure, reduces the risk of cognitive problems and Alzheimer’s disease and helps with muscles and joints. Not only that, it helps seniors socialize, get fresh air and simply enjoy the outdoors. But now senior communities are focusing less on he outdoors and providing seniors a nice, quiet and safe place for their daily walks. This comes as part of a study performed by researchers at the University of Washington.

What is Preventing Proper Walks in Senior Communities

The study found that the main reason why seniors were not following a regular walking routine, was lack of a safe place outdoors to walk. Some seniors reported there weren’t good lighting locations in their area, which meant they were limited to only walking during the daylight hours. This meant seniors were unable to go for walks early in the morning or at night, which meant during the hot summer days, they barely walked at all. Others reported unsafe conditions, such as no public transportation, intersections and sidewalks not marked or simply not feeling safe when walking outdoors. The study showed that seniors who didn’t walk on a regular basis because of these bad conditions, were suffering from more chronic diseases like arthritis, heart disease, and even stroke.

How Changes Can Be Made

Because seniors need to have a safe place to walk on a regular basis to avoid such conditions, this study is proposing new ways for senior living communities to offer this to their residents. One way is to encourage cities to improve the conditions of their sidewalks and enforce bicycle laws that don’t allow bicycles to ride n the sidewalks where pedestrians are attempting to walk. Senior communities should also offer transportation to other locations so seniors can have their daily walks, even if it isn’t possible near the community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors 65 and older need approximately 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise. Since walking is one of easiest and safest forms of fitness for seniors, it shows the importance of improving walking conditions in different senior living communities.