Walk Your Way to Wellness
Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. For older adults in particular, walking 20-30 minutes per day is a simple, enjoyable, and accessible way to help seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle that’s focused on whole-person wellness.
At Dallas Retirement Village, we’re committed to our 8 Dimensions of Wellness program — a holistic approach to senior living that supports an ongoing pursuit of life enrichment. Here are just a few ideas to illustrate how walking covers all the bases of our 8 Dimensions:
- Physical – Walking as a physical activity supports a strong and healthy body. It’s tremendously effective as a low-cost senior wellness program as it improves cardiovascular health and prevents/manages various conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and pain reduction. And it improves overall mood, reduces stress, relieves tension, and more.
- Social – What’s better than using a nice long walk as an opportunity to connect with friends and combat all too common social isolation and elderly loneliness.
- Emotional – Talk to a regular walker and he or she will attest that walking helps clear the mind and enhances one’s outlook on life.
- Spiritual – Walking provides time to meditate, reflect, explore, and deepen your inner-most thoughts and beliefs.
- Vocational – Walking is a great way to use your physical abilities for life enrichment through exercise.
- Intellectual – Use your walking time to exercise your mind to maintain cognitive function and/or learn something new. Listen to a book, podcast or music, or investigate nature.
- Environmental – Walking outdoors helps make you one with nature and promotes a positive impact on you due to the quality of the world around you.
- Health Services – These are there when or if you might need them, but they’re held at bay by walking that helps you feel well and stay well, too!
A Healthy Appreciation for a Good Walk
Dallas Retirement Village makes wellness an enjoyable part of every day. Life Enrichment Director Hilary Boyce shares that several of the residents seek out opportunities to walk for exercise regularly either on their own or with a friend.
“Currently, regularly scheduled walking classes are in transition, but our Wellness Coordinator Tiffany Garcia is starting up a walking group and mapping our beautiful 30-acre campus where there’s plenty of room to roam,” says Hilary. “Additionally, the town of Dallas is extremely walkable, and Dallas City Park — with its lovely trails, a creek, and botanical garden — is right across the street from our community.”
TIPS FROM TIFFANY
Balance and fall prevention is a topic of interest for many seniors. So, as you walk:
- Focus on your posture and form as a good way to improve your balance and coordination.
- Make sure your posture is helping you, not hurting you. Walk with your head up, neck and back relaxed, arms swinging.
- Walk in areas that are clearly defined by paths and walkways.
The Village Birders: Walking, Learning, and Loving Outdoor Life
Three years ago, Dallas Retirement Village residents Jim and Jeanette Scott discovered a unique opportunity to combine many of the 8 Dimensions of Wellness through birdwatching in and around the community. Walking for exercise. Sharing time with friends. Learning about birds. Experiencing nature all around. Since 2020, a resident interest group has grown out of the Scotts’ idea. It’s called The Village Birders.
“Getting outside to enjoy the fresh air and all the beauty of nature has always been a way to ‘trick’ myself into exercising,” says Jim. “Beyond that, I always find our bird walks relaxing and emotionally recharging.”
The walks are scheduled twice monthly April through June, and then again in September and October. Normally, there are around a dozen resident Birders — the right number for good participation and hearing Jim says. The Birders start in the morning at 9:00, and the walk is normally under a mile in length. “Once we make our way out of the bus, we go at a slow pace so everyone can participate,” says Jim.
When the bird walks began in 2020, the group just walked around the campus of Dallas Retirement Village. The next year, the community provided a bus and driver. Now, the group goes to a variety of local, city, county, and state parks — those recognized as area HotSpots by ebird.com where Jim submits all his birding observations. (Jim also registered Dallas Retirement Village on the national Ebird Hot Spot.)
“I’ve come to realize the bus ride is a primary motivation — birding is secondary,” jokes Jim. “Almost 100% of our residents would never go for a bird walk on their own — it’s socialization that’s the draw!”
Jim originally started collecting wildlife data in the early 1980s on high mountain lakes for fly-fishing. It grew to include hiking and skiing destinations, and then information on everything from wildflowers to birds and animals. You can check out Jim’s Cascade Ramblings website here and see photos depicting all the fun The Village Birders have on his excursions.
Not a Walker?
Maybe you don’t enjoy walking as your preferred form of exercise or do not feel like walking is enough exercise for your wellness. The senior wellness programs at Dallas Retirement Village fill a robust calendar of individual opportunities and group activities from nutritional forums to aerobic classes. All programs emphasize our commitment to whole-person wellness, and a full-time wellness coordinator is on staff to help you navigate all the choices. One more thing — if a connection to nature is a required component of your personal wellness plan, the community garden plots are just the ticket for socialization, fresh food and fresh air, and even more wellness benefits. Explore all the activities and wellness programs of Dallas Retirement Village — CONTACT US!