Alex O'Brien

Retirement Life

Starting a walking group in your village

Starting a walking group in your village

In our sixties and beyond an active lifestyle is more important than ever. The National Ageing Research Institute recommends seniors aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise every day as it can not only help ward of physical problems (such as type II diabetes, heart disease and stroke) but it’s also good for your mind, mood and memory.

Starting or maintaining exercise as you age can be a challenge – there are more health problems to consider, concerns about falls and injuries and simply not being as spritely as you once were. However, exercise doesn’t have to involve strenuous or intense workouts; it can be as simple as a good walking session which is low impact, free and high in health benefits. And one of the great advantages of living in a retirement village is that you are surrounded by people so why not start a walking group? It’s a social way to boost your fitness and we all know exercise is so much more fun and motivating when you are surrounded by friends.

So if your village doesn’t already have a walking group, here’s how to start one in seven easy steps.

  1. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t in the social committee, anyone can organise a group or activity. To gauge interest ask around or put up a note on the community noticeboard. Alternatively, you could approach the social committee to see if they could organise a walking group.
  2. When speaking to interested people decide on a time and meeting place. Check with the social committee that it doesn’t clash with any other activities and events.
  3. As the organiser do some research of different walking routes around your village. Consider low, medium and high intensity routes as well as a range of lengths. It’s a good idea to have a few choices depending on the fitness levels of everyone as well as having goals to aim for!
  4. Advertise it by placing a note on the community noticeboard and calendar as well as letters in people’s mailboxes. Remind people to wear comfortable shoes, wear sunscreen and bring a water bottle, particularly if it is hot.
  5. During the meet up, decide as a group the level of intensity and length of walk that you are all feeling comfortable with today. You can start slow and build up; that is why you have the range of options. Be mindful of people’s health problems.
  6. Remember to warm up first! Do a few easy stretches and start slowly. Walk at a steady pace, swing your arms freely and stand straight. Your feet should step in a rolling action from the heel to the toe.
  7. Commit to a schedule to build healthy habits. Why not make it a weekly or bi-weekly activity? Having likeminded people is great motivation to exercise and it won’t even feel like it when you are chatting away and exploring the neighbourhood.