When it comes to exercise, walking is as close to perfect as it gets. It’s great for the cardiovascular system, it burns off calories, and it’s low impact. And other than a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes or sneakers, it requires no special equipment.
The biggest obstacle to regular walking is the weather. In northern states, cold wintry weather can keep you inside. In the southeast, hot, humid weather is the culprit, while in the southwest, it’s soaring temperatures. It’s not fun, and sometimes it’s not safe to walk outside your comfort zone.
So what’s a devoted walker—or even a wanna-be walker—to do when the weather refuses to cooperate? Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives to outdoor walking:
- Join a health club. Membership in these organizations is surprisingly reasonable for seniors, as many health clubs offer a substantial discount to those over age 55. If your schedule is flexible, use a health club in between the morning and evening rush—and have the run of the facility.
- Walk the mall. The main advantage of mall walking: you’re out of the weather, in a secure, traffic-free environment. The downside: mall walking can quickly become tedious. Fortunately, many malls sponsor mall-walking clubs, so that you can walk and talk with others and pass the time while you’re maintaining your cardiovascular fitness.
- Track down a treadmill. When people start exercising, they tend to commemorate their commitment by purchasing a piece of exercise equipment—which inevitably turns up listed in the classified ads not long after their enthusiasm flags. In most cases, all it takes to get a lead on a virtually new—and discounted—treadmill is to buy a copy of your local paper.
- Try the latest exercise video. Most video stores carry a selection of exercise videos. Be sure to choose videos that are suitable for your fitness level—and are fun without being too fast paced.
The first step in a successful walking program is to consult your physician. Once you have their approval, you’re ready to start making tracks.