Maintaining Your Independence

By Peggy Buchanan and Maddie Kong, Vista del Monte Retirement Community Fitness, Aquatics and Physical Therapy

Summertime is here and with that comes many celebrations: graduations, summer vacations, backyard barbeques, and of course, Independence Day. While the parades and fireworks are traditionally reserved for the Fourth of July, the staff at the Fitness and Aquatic Center believe that you can achieve and celebrate your independence all year long by adding more walking to your daily routine.

Walking is a comprehensive way to help maintain your independence, and the benefits can be seen with even the smallest additions to your daily routine. Walking will keep your heart, bones, and muscles strong, and your brain healthy. Walking increases oxygen to your brain, helping to prevent dementia. In addition, walking can improve your mood by increasing BDNF, “brain fertilizer”, and endorphins, “feel good hormones”.

Regular walking can also help decrease joint pain by as much as 30% from arthritis. Finally, regular walking can lower your risk for cancer and diabetes. The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which tracked 150,000 people, showed that those who walked more were more likely to live longer and maintain a higher quality of life.

Vista del Monte is a wonderful place to walk and can be done on your own schedule! Most all the walking areas are level, surrounded by beautiful scenery and lots of fresh air!

 A few tips to incorporate more walking into your routine:

1) Start with “baby steps” and set a distance or timed goal that you are willing to increase on a regular basis. 

2) Walk before or after a meal. That’s easy to do if you set a goal to walk to and from the dining room.

3) Walk with a friend. Company is more fun and creates accountability.

4) Walk tall, not small: check your posture and keep your center of gravity over your base of support. If using a walker, walk between the handle bars and as close as safely possible to the seat.

5) If you use an electric cart, use it as little as possible and set a walking goal to counter balance the sit-time.

Make every day in July and all year long for that matter, a celebration of your independence. Go on a walk and know that you are benefitting your overall health and well-being!

Peggy Buchanan is the Coordinator of Vitality and Wellness Programming for Front Porch and serves as the director of fitness, aquatics and physical therapy at Front Porch’s Vista del Monte Retirement Community. Madeline Kong is the fitness specialist at Vista del Monte Retirement Community, where she teaches balance and strength. Front Porch is a not-for-profit organization, based in Glendale, California, that serves individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, affordable housing communities, and related management and development services.