Hiking Benefits & Tips for Seniors

It is important for people of all ages to keep active and exercise in order to maintain a healthy life. This is especially true for seniors, as long as it is in a safe manner. Studies have shown that seniors who walk at least 4 hours a week are less likely to be hospitalized due to heart issues. Hiking is one way to get out for a walk and are softer on joints instead of concrete. There are multiple benefits to hiking, but there are also  precautions to keep in mind.

Hiking with friends is benefical for safety and fun!
Hiking with friends is a safe way to have fun and make sure no one gets lost or hurt without help.


Hiking has many benefits for your overall physical and mental health. It improves the circulation of blood flow through your body which improves your heart health. Hiking is safe for seniors that can walk on their own ss long as you go on a safe, approved trail. Walking the trail will help your muscle strength and bone density, ultimately reducing the risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases. On top of helping you physically studies have shown that hiking twice a week increases cognitive function such as better memory.

Nature walks can lower depression and feelings of isolation, especially if going with a hiking partner. Make this a group or family hobby to really get all of the benefits of hiking, and to make memories with your loved ones.

Safety Tips

Always check with your doctor and make sure it is safe for you to start walking and hiking.

Dress accordingly in order not to overheat, or in some cases freeze, and make sure that you have no-slip grip shoes so you do not slip or fall.

Take short hikes if you are a beginner so you don’t overexert yourself. Once you have been steadily hiking for about half an hour and you feel more comfortable you can add more time. Take your time on hikes, even if you are part of a group, do it at your own pace.

Using a stick or crane will help keep you balanced when hiking.
Using a stick or crane will help keep you balanced when hiking.

Drink plenty of water when hiking and carry extra bottles so you can stay hydrated. Make sure you use sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Be sure to let someone know when and where you are going on a hike so someone is aware in case you get hurt and cannot contact anyone for help. Carry a first-aid kit with you to treat minor issues.

Stretch and do some warm-ups before hiking so you can loosen up your muscles.

Use a mobility aid such as a stick or hiking pole to help you with balance or assistance, especially going uphill or downhill.

Hiking is not considered a rigorous activity, but instead another form of walking through nature or trails at your own pace. Exercising and staying in shape is ideal for living a healthier life, and hiking is a perfect way to get out and get moving. You not only get out and work your muscles, heart, and joints, but you also get to go out and socialize.

Before you get started always remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.

Lifestyle Modifications for Healthier Seniors

Exercise and diet, we hear how important it is all the time, but does it really hold its value as we age?  We live in a time where every week there is a new fad diet or exercise program in the works that promises instant results, so you would think staying healthy would be a no brainer. As we age maintaining health and hygiene is still important, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as signing up for a aerial pilates class or switching to a no carb, high protein, no sugar, I only eat green on Wednesday diet. There are simple things you can do to promote health. In order to live an overall happier and healthier life, there are some important, but basic, practices to remember.

Routine dental care

Daily brushing and flossing are essential for good oral health because plaque can build up quickly. If too much plaque builds up, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Make sure to brush twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride, floss at least once a day, use an antiseptic mouthwash and visit your dentist regularly.

Regular Doctor Visits

This includes dental, primary doctor, eye doctor, and foot doctor visits. It is important to keep up with your health and visit the doctor regularly for preventative measures and to improve your health. Ask your doctor about any medications that are necessary for your health, and go over any side effects with your doctor.

Sun & Skin Protection  

The sun produces UV rays that can harm and damage your skin, and cause skin cancer. As we age, our skin loses fat and water content, which makes the skin thinner and allows UV light to penetrate more deeply. Always apply sunscreen and moisturizers to your skin to protect and hydrate. The hours between 10AM and 4PM are usually the most UV-intense, so make sure to cover up and use sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 or greater.

Make sure to check your skin regularly for any new or suspicious growths from head to toe.

Adequate Sleep

Not getting enough sleep has major effects on your body. The metabolic activity of your brain decreases significantly, and your body temperature decreases. Sleep deprivation can cause your immune system functions to decrease, and can lead to an increased heart rate variability, which can lead to serious health conditions and complications. Experts believe 7 and half hours on average is an adequate amount of sleep for seniors, but you may need more. Decide how much sleep you need based on how much helps you function best throughout the day.

At times it seems like as we age we have so many things to remember and accomplish, so many things we want to enjoy for as long as we can, and these big important things can get in the way of us remembering the little things. But what you have to remember is that these little things can prevent you from dealing with big problems later. These little things keep you healthier longer and allow you to enjoy the important things as long as possible. Focus on yourself, remember the little things, and put your health first so you can keep your mind and body in top shape.

The Importance of Relationships & Social Interaction For Seniors

As we age, it becomes harder to make new friends or socialize with current friends that might have moved away or have severe medical issues. The older we get, the less energetic we become and would prefer to sit at home in front of the TV or read. The less socially active we become, the higher the risk of depression or isolation.

In a scientific study, it was found that older adults with more social engagement developed mental and physical limitations more slowly over time. Those with little to no social engagement developed mental and physical limitations at a quicker rate. Social interactions offer many benefits for older adults, from reducing the risk of dementia to boosting your immune system.

Having a close relationship with family can increase senior's mental health.
Having a close relationship with family can increase senior’s mental health.

Support System

Staying socially active will allow you to have a stable support system of friends that know what you’re going through. When you are going through a rough time, having that support system can make a problem more bearable. You can talk about your problems, receive feedback and advice, and help cope with the issue better. Your friends can offer you a shoulder to lean on, acknowledge your emotions, provide motivation, and shed some light on the situation.

Improves Physical Health

Complications can happen from lack of physical activity such as muscle and bone loss, changes in weight, poor circulation, and lower stamina. Remaining socially active can potentially reduce the risk of these issues as well as heart problems, and can lower blood pressure.

When you have more options to be social, you tend to leave the house more whether to meet up with friends for a meal, a walk, or another small get together. Walking, going up the stairs, and carrying bags are simple physical activities, but they are a positive step and have a positive impact on your health. On top of getting more physical activity your immune system will also likely be healthier seniors tend to eat more when they are around others and a healthy appetite leads to a healthy immune system.

Spending time with friends and other people your own age can also help you remember to get your recommended health screenings. When you are around people going through similar changes that come with age they are more likely to keep you on track. If all of your friends are talking about getting their health screenings you are more likely to remember and schedule one of your own due to group mentality. If your friends find out about a new drug, exercise, or disease to look out for you are more likely to take an interest than if you pass a flyer or briefly hear about it from a stranger. This will help you stay on top of your health, because the people around you are trying to stay on top of theirs.

Getting outside for a walk with friends can boost morale.
Getting outside for a walk with friends can boost morale.

Maintains Mental Health

Interacting with friends and family can reduce your risk for mental health issues such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and poor cognitive function. You can have a structured activity like a book club thats allows you to talk about a new book every month, or just get together with your family and friends to talk about the good old days. The important thing is that you keep socially active to keep your mind sharp You need to find a way to keep your mind engaged in a social setting, not just on your own. Studies show that strong social connections will drop the chances of cognitive decline by 70%.

Friends can give you self-confidence, and help you to try new things which can add some fun to your life. It gives you a sense of belonging, reduces stress levels, and keeps you connected to the world around you.

Ways to Remain Socially Active

One of the best ways to remain socially active is to join a gym, which can help you meet others and help you stay physical.

Volunteer in your community or visit a senior care center and participate in activities to meet people with similar interests, to help you build a stable support system.

Take a class, learn a new language, learn different cooking styles, and/or take up a new hobby.

Maintaining relationships and staying social is important as you age to help you stay active and mentally healthy. Always find ways to stay stimulated and connected to the world in order to not fall into isolation and decrease in physical health.