Exercise has a very important role in the general health and
the quality of life of everyone, but especially in seniors.
Seniors who walk tend to look younger, sleep more soundly
and have fewer visits to the doctor. Walking for 30 to 60
minutes four to six days a week will help improve
osteoarthritis and decrease the risk of osteoporosis, heart
disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Walking is the
top recreational sport for seniors.
Although many seniors may be scared to start an exercise
program because they are worried about injury, the health
benefits of exercise outweigh the risk of injury. Walking is
considered one of the best forms of exercise because it's
safe, cheap and easy. Unfortunately, foot problems can
prevent seniors from starting or continuing with a walking
program. Follow these tips to help avoid foot problems
1. Choose the right shoe. Make sure the shoe is supportive
and bends only at the toes. The shoe should also be stable
from side to side. If you can twist the shoe or fold it in half, it
is too flexible. The shoe should have enough wiggle room
for the toes, yet be snug enough to keep the heel from
2. Buy shoes in the afternoon. Feet swell during the day and
it is better to fit your shoes at this time. The only exception to
this rule would be if you always do your walks in the
mornings. Make sure your foot is measured at the store to
obtain your correct size. Feet change size over time. Most
feet lengthen and widen over the years, increasing the shoe
size. Don't assume you've always been the same shoe size.
3. Start slowly with an easy pace. Try a short walk of 15
minutes and gradually increase the time each day.
4. If you haven't walked before, make sure you start on a flat,
soft surface. A great surface to start on is a level, dirt path.
Don't jump into climbing hills until you build some
5. Warm up before walks. Gentle stretching before and after
walking can improve circulation and prevent injury. But, don't
over stretch. If you haven't stretched before, be careful not to
over do it. This can lead to injury.
6. Avoid walking in bad weather. Cold, wet weather makes
surfaces slippery and hard and decreases visibility.
Muscles can become tight and the feet can become numb,
increasing the chance of injury.
7. Examine your feet after the walk. Look for areas of
irritation, red spots, blisters or areas of swelling. Self-
treating can turn a minor problem into a major problem.
Consult a podiatrist if a problem persists.
8. Avoid cotton socks. The white cotton socks you've been
told to wear all these years are not appropriate for exercise
walking. Synthetic or wool socks will help wick moisture
away from your feet as you walk. This will decrease your
chance of fungal infections, excess rubbing or blister
9. Walk in well-lit places. The darker the trail or road, the
more difficult it is to see and the higher the chance you will
have of tripping, falling or twisting an ankle.
10. Don't walk through pain. As soon as you notice a foot
problem, stop walking. If you continue walking with an injury
you could be making the problem worse. If you feel it's
necessary to continue your exercise program, try using a
stationary bike while you give your foot a rest. If a few days of
rest does not resolve the problem, see a podiatrist.
Christine Dobrowolski is a podiatrist and the author of
Those Aching Feet: Your Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment
of Common Foot Problems. To learn more about Dr.
Dobrowolski and her book visit
http://www.skipublishing.com. For information on foot
products to keep you walking, visit