US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin has officially launched a new campaign called Every Body Walk! The goal of this initiative is to get all of us, our senior loved ones included, moving.
A major objective of getting everyone walking is to manage to our weight for better health, but in the case of our seniors another is benefit is simply keeping them safe.
We are strong proponents of physical activity and walking is a great way to get more healthy and maintain our current functional status as we age.
Health is Reward of Walking
According to Dr. Benjamin “The real reward is invigorating, energizing, joyous health. It is a level of health that allows people to embrace each day and live their lives to the fullest without disease or disability.”
This is a timely message as we read a recent study which informs us that seniors are at risk walking in their communities for injury and death as pedestrians. Government data shows that traffic-related death rates for men and women aged 75 and older were more than double those of people aged 34 and younger. Pedestrian deaths number 4,000 of the 34,000 traffic related deaths each year.
According to the CDC, older adults who walk on the street are often more frail, have functional limitations such as impaired vision, mental function and disabilities putting them more squarely in harm’s way.
Preventing Injuries to Walkers
The CDC recommends that cities take action to help us keep our seniors safe as they walk on our city streets.
- Install sidewalks where walkers are most likely taking a stroll.
- Install crosswalks with lights indicating when it is safe to cross.
- Install speed bumps in vulnerable areas.
- Reduce speed limits in the areas where walkers frequent.
- Create initiatives or laws that reduce distracted drivers.
- Create pedestrian safety zones and designated walking areas on streets.
- Improve lighting in areas where low light leads to poor vision.
- Install parks with walking trails that provide safe areas to get exercise and stay active as we age.
With so many people wishing to live and stay in their communities over their lifetime, it is important for us all to have places that are safe. Our seniors need to stay physically active but also remain safe getting adequate exercise. Because some city dwellers aging in place need safe walkways as their mode of transportation to get their basic needs met such as grocery shopping and doctor visits, it is important to advocate for safe walkable communities. What benefits our senior loved ones benefits us as well!
Seniors and caregivers will be more likely to participate in the Every Body Walk program if they feel safe and can walk in their communities without risking injury from unsafe walking paths.
Let’s all go take a walk now!