The other day, after talking to my physical therapist, I was very depressed. I learned that walking may be making my back issues worse. Since walking has been my relief from stress and provides multiple health benefits, even if I only do a certain amount most days, so it was overwhelming to get this news.
Ever since I was a child, I have used walking as my primary means of exercise. Honestly, it was how I got from point A to point B. We were a one car family and daddy was the only driver. If you needed to get somewhere you walked. Well, until I got my first bicycle with training wheels and graduated with those wheels coming off. Then, it rode that bike everywhere, even when I was too grown for it. You did what you had to do, but I digress. Back to walking.
It was nothing for my friends and I to walk miles every day. We saved our bus fare for school and walked so we had spending money for junk at the corner store on the way to school. It was a lot of fun to walk and kid around with friends and we didn’t think twice about the distance or the time. All those miles probably are what kept weight more down in those teen years when we ate pretty much what we wanted.
By the time I reached adulthood, I was well into walking and while it was nice to have public transportation, I still preferred a nice trek. I was 21 before I got my driver’s license and for work, I paid people to take me when I lived too far from the workplace. I did the same for junior college until I got a license and daddy let me drive the car since he needed my help by that time.
Hiking about the town and countryside was my joy. It was my place to commune with nature and release some of those natural frustrations with life. Much of anything that was bothering me got pounded out on the trails. By the time I was approaching 40 I was walking about 5 miles a day. It was an effort to work on physical and mental health, so I had a clear head to handle whatever came my way. It worked. I had energy, weight loss, mental clarity and was the happiest when in this mode.
Fast forward future and now past, when I was about 42, I had my second knee surgery. The first was when I was about 25 and needed to get my knee tightened up from multiple injuries which led to arthritis. The surgery in my 40s was experimental and rather extensive. It was not a joint replacement, but a rebuilding of the knee. It worked, and I could eventually walk again and even dance.
The effects of this surgery lasted for about 20 years and then I had to get a knee replacement. I should have gotten one sooner, but I wanted to be certain before going forward. The reason I say I probably should have gotten one sooner is because they found I was more progressed in the damage and would never get the range of motion that most knee surgery patients get.
What I hoped for was that I could walk more again. I had been doing a lot of swimming and lost weight before my surgery, which helped prepare and sped up my recovery. This was on the advice of a nurse friend who had undergone knee replacement. I eventually started doing some trail walking which is easier on the joints than walking on concrete. As I cannot get to the trails I have walked on the sidewalks in my community and used the gym at the clubhouse to walk, as well.
Last week, I went to physical therapy for an assessment and treatment plan. It is because of neck and spine pain because of arthritis and stuff. What I learned is that I would be better off using the exercise bike vs walking. I have been using the bike, but it’s not as fulfilling or balanced as walking. I spoke with my friend who has the Occupational Therapy experience and she suggested that I could still walk but go back to the trails. While it is more convenient to use the concrete walkways, it’s not helping my back issues because it tears me up and causes great pain. So, I will use the bike, use the gym and perhaps try the malls and do the trails as weather and logistics allow.
Another important fact to note is that I use trekking poles for trail walking, and these have been most helpful. There is an added benefit in workouts when you use these poles. I ordered mine online and they were very reasonable. My walking partner has a set, as well, due to having plantars fasciitis.
It depressed me to give up walking and I am glad I spoke with my OT friend about ways to work around the obstacles. I hope that with these adjustments that I can continue to walk. It won’t be in how I prefer, and nature gets second place, but there are ways around that too. It is more than likely that I will still be able to enjoy the local gardens and arboretums, just at a pace which allows me to enjoy the offerings without doing damage.
Growing older gracefully can be a challenge, but with some tweaking and help from my friends, I believe I can do this. Why not try, right?
I hope you could gain something from this and wish you will in your endeavors to exercise and gain healthy benefits. Perhaps you would like to share what you are doing to help your health and any obstacles which you would like to overcome.
This is based on my experience. For your own situation there may be other variables. It is always a great plan to consult with your health professional before embarking on health changes.
As the pool is closing for the season, it’s time to ramp up the exercise routine for the fall. What’s worked for me is tabata and strength training. It’s a nice mix which I sometimes combine, but often do separately.
With an older body, not making excuses here, there are some quirks that need attention. First, I have physical challenges, including arthritis, bursitis and fibromyalgia, among some other thing. When planning my routines, I have to concentrate on ways to help me manage these without feeling the need to give up. Not a quitter, it’s in my gene pool, I am determined to accomplish goals. This brings me to a list of pointers to help with planning for my workout. Disclaimer: These are things that help me and I take no responsibility for your experience with them.
1. Be reasonable by making challenges within your ability while still pushing yourself
2. Remember this is for you and you are not competing with anybody else.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
4. If you are trying to lose weight be cautious about eating your exercise burning calories – there’s a balance in there and you will find it with practice – also good to note is that if you eat food that is high calorie, you are not likely to burn it off with reasonable exercise. Ask your doctor for a guide how much to consume in balance with exercise.
5. Use an app to help. I use MyFitnessPal, but I have a routine so it’s hard to veer away. I like that you can log your exercise along with eating, but mostly, I focus on the eating.
6. Consult your doctor before starting exercise. Mine is one of the best cheerleaders who looks at my weight. She also tells me nice things like how she wish she had more patients like me. I can’t help, though, but feel bad for the other patients.
7. Find music and/or videos to help you with exercise. I downloaded Spotify and use their Tabata music, complete with timers and even exercise suggestions. There are some great videos on YouTube including Tai Chi, Chair Yoga, Walking and pretty much exercise for any age groups.
8. Senior Centers and other community centers have exercise programs. Where I live there is a city booklet where you can find programs at reasonable pricing and there are even ways to get fee adjustments for those who cannot afford the whole program pricing. There may be community pools open year round.
9. Socializing while exercising is a great way to get your move on and catch up with friends. Joining walking groups or enlisting friends to join in walking are great ways to get your move on. Meetup often has groups with this focus.
10. Don’t overdo it. I cannot stress this enough that you have to listen to your body. Exercise should not bring pain, true pain. Aching may happen, but pain is not good and is a sign to STOP. I have had times when I started exercising and had to stop in five minutes. When you have bad pain days, you have them and it’s time to do something else to take care of you. Maybe a warm soak or hot tea or something in the relaxation realm. Relaxation should be a natural part of your daily routine. What goes on in the mind goes on in the body.
Now, you may have read this list and thought it’s just like any other list you have read. If you got this far, which I hope you did, there is one last and most important thing: YOU GOT THIS!!
Just a little side note: I am not endorsing any of the programs or apps mentioned in this post, these are just some things that have worked for me.