Please check out the just released Walking Clubs Toolkit from Go4Life which provides tips and techniques to help start and sustain a walking club for adults 50+. Walking is a wonderful way for older adults to be physically active! It’s easy, it’s free, it’s relatively risk-free, and it doesn’t require costly equipment, a gym membership, or training. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people than ever are walking for physical activity. Walking is the most popular aerobic activity.
Walking is great exercise and when done briskly over time, it can build endurance—helping older adults walk farther, faster, or uphill. It also may make everyday activities such as gardening, shopping, or playing a sport easier. The goal is to achieve at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
Benefits of Walking Clubs
By starting a walking club, you are offering numerous benefits to older adults.
- Health Benefits! When done regularly, walking at a brisk pace may offer these benefits:
- lower the risk of high blood pressure
- strengthen bones and muscles
- burn more calories
- lift moods
- Accountability! Membership in a walking club may motivate older adults to stick with this form of exercise because they know others are counting on their participation.
- Social connections! The social connections made in walking clubs can also offer older people a sense of wellbeing, emotional mental health, and a way to avoid a decline in overall health that can come with loneliness and depression (PDF, 2.6MB).
- Safety in numbers! A walking club may also provide a way to be active for older adults who are reluctant to walk alone.
This Go4Life Walking Clubs Toolkit provides tips for those interested in starting and sustaining a walking club for older adults. The recommendations presented here were obtained from a variety of trusted sources at the National Institutes of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Surgeon General, and our national and local Go4Life partners with expertise in developing and conducting walking clubs. A list of these resources may be found under the “Helpful Resources” section of this toolkit.
The toolkit incorporates the ideas and suggestions of partners who volunteered for the Go4Life Walking Clubs mini-project last fall, and it’s a wonderful example of partner collaboration and input!
The following Go4Life partners provided input into the development of this toolkit.
- Age Safe America
- Alaska Division of Public Health
- Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival
- Geri-Fit, LLC
- International Council on Active Aging
- Let’s Move in Libraries
- Massachusetts Councils on Aging
- Mississippi State Extension Service
- Springpoint Senior Living
- Sun Health Center for Health and Wellbeing
- Sunrise Senior Living
Please consider using the toolkit as a guide to start a walking club in your community. In fact, starting a club might be a great way to mark Go4Life Month in September.