music, walking, eldersMany of us have a love hate relationship with exercise. We love how it supports our health but maybe don’t relish the time it takes or the effort it requires. As I age, it has not gotten any easier. Other than the habit of doing it, it is still an effort. It is difficult to imagine this will get any easier as I age even more.

Walking is a common form of exercise for many as they age. This weight-bearing exercise can also be aerobic exercise. Other than supportive footwear and a place to safely walk, little else is needed.

Recently I was asked to share:

How about using music to encourage walking for exercise for those we are #caregiving for?

If the individual has specific issues including history of a stroke or a diagnosis such as Parkinson’s I would recommend consulting with a physical therapist and a Neurologic Music Therapist. (This is specialized training.)

If you are speaking of  elders who are encouraged to maintain fitness by walking, here are two general tips.

  1. Consider various venues for walking. Whether it is rain, cold, snow, wind…walking outside is not always a best option. Locating fitness centers with tracks, malls, or other sites for protection from the elements can be important. Also, we all need a change in environment from time to time. Walking trails and places with sidewalks in good repair are options when the weather permits.
  2. Other than when walking on a tread mill, don’t wear headphones. It makes it difficult to hear others/traffic approaching. While a little challenging to find, there are lapel speakers that can be plugged into you mp3 or phone.  If an individual is able to hear and process sounds from both ears, a bluetooth or single ear option might be okay depending on where you are walking.

To the issue of music, consider these six tips:

  1. Consider the beat of the music. Most of us don’t waltz as we walk. Use music that fits the movement.
  2. Consider the tempo – how fast or slow do you/ the individual need to walk?
  3. Music people like and know can support their activity. 
  4. Singing while walking is an option. Similar to talking while walking it is important to have a flat, predictable surface if your attention is not fully on the walking surface. It also can be a way to monitor whether someone is becoming winded.
  5. Talk about the song you just heard or just sang. It can give you something to focus on rather than how far you still have to go until the finish line.
  6. Consider the volume of the music. Is it so loud it could damage hearing? Does the volume present a safety issue where you are walking?

There you have my tips for music to encourage elders to walk. If  you have a caregiving of elders and music question, you can share it on Facebook or drop me an email.

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