If you're ambulatory, how many steps are you walking every day? Studies published by the National Institutes of Health note that a healthy step count for older adults is 7,000 to 10,000. For those dealing with chronic illnesses, the range is potentially lower, coming in at 6,500 to 8,500 steps a day.
Do a bit of research, and you'll find recommendations for step counts that range from 6,000 to 10,000+ steps a day. That's roughly 3 to 5 miles walking each day.
It might sound like a lot, especially if you've moved into an assisted living apartment and don't have to move very far to get from fridge to bed to bath. But it's important not to get too hung up on the actual number, especially if you know you aren't coming anywhere close to it.
First, consider whether you're getting the recommended amount of exercise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is important. That's 150 minutes a week, which breaks down to 30 minutes 5 days a week. You can even break that 30 minutes up into three sessions of 10 minutes each.
Second, talk to your healthcare provider to understand what your individual needs are. Every person is different, so you don't want to embark on exercise or walking programs that don't work for you.
Once you understand what type of movement would be good for your body, consider supplementing regular exercise at Autumn View Gardens assisted living community with extra walking. Walking helps burn calories, puts your major muscles to work and can foster enhanced mobility over time.
Don't try to go from 1,000 steps a day to 10,000 overnight. Instead, add a couple hundred steps each week and work slowly up to your goal. You can track your walking with a fitness tracker or pedometer or simply make it a goal to walk for a certain number of minutes each day.
Here are some specific tips for getting more steps in without leaving the Autumn View Gardens assisted living community.
Come up with a reason every day that it's good weather to make your way to the gazebo. Bring a book, your Bible or headphones and a music player. Enjoy quiet time, a chat with a neighbor or a cup of coffee or iced tea while you sit in the gazebo. The walk there and back adds a decent number of steps to your count.
Make it a goal to walk once (or more, if you're able) around the walking path every day. If you can't make it all away around, start with just a small section or take plenty of rest breaks at the benches on the property. Once you can make it around once with minimal trouble, reach for a little farther each week. Eventually, you might be able to walk a mile or more on the path, which is 2,000 or more steps!
Push your body to move throughout the day, even if it's only for little trips. If you're working on something or enjoying leisure time in your assisted living apartment, make it a habit to break that time up with walking. For example:
Walking around your apartment every 15 to 30 minutes or so can add a lot of steps to your day, but it's not extended activity, which is what's good for your cardiovascular system. Add walks that are a little longer by taking breaks to walk briskly up and down the hall outside of your apartment. This can be especially important on rainy days when you can't get your normal walk in outside.
You can walk every hour on the hour (or every two hours if that's too much). Or, you can make it a point to stroll the halls for 10 minutes three times a day, such as early morning, early afternoon and early evening.
Add steps naturally by taking the longer path whenever possible. When you're exiting the assisted living community, head for the door farthest from your room, for example. Choose to sit at a dining table farthest from the door, and make a lap of common areas before you select a seat. Adding these little strolls throughout your day can help you stretch your legs, see people you don't normally see and add numbers to your daily step count.
Remember to consult with healthcare providers before you add exercise to your day. And if you want to be more mobile but you're struggling to do so, reach out to the Autumn View Gardens staff for assistance.
Bethesda Foundaion is not associated with the Bethesda Health Group of St. Louis, MO.