Walking to A Steady Beat Improves Speed and Strength

Christmas and Hanukkah are over and after consuming too many sweets, heavy meals or perhaps a few extra glasses of beer or wine, it’s probably a good day to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions.  Top of most people’s list is to commit to being more active and new research out of McMaster University has found the music you listen to while walking can make a significant difference.

Staying physically active in older age is important to prevent loss of function and preserve mobility and independence.  Studies have found that walking speed is a good predictor of longevity.  Although walking gait and speed may change with age, becoming slower or less confident, there are steps older adults can take to preserve their walking speed and a motivating walking playlist can help.

According the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, coordination involved in walking in time to a steady beat can improve speed, stride length, walking rhythm and symmetry.  A good walking speed for older adults is approximately one meter per second; it should take about 10 seconds to walk across a two lane street and then add 3 seconds to get up and down each curb. Men often have a faster walking speed than women because they are usually taller with longer strides.

By downloading a playlist (you can enlist the help of kids or grandkids if necessary) on a smartphone or iPod, seniors can start improving their walking ability right away.   Choose music you enjoy with a distinct and steady beat but make sure you can still hear traffic and other sounds around you through the earphones to stay safe.

To download a variety of walking mixes follow this link to PodRunner: Workout Music Mixes or follow the Silver Sneakers playlist on Spotify.   Creating a walking playlist of favorite music for an older adults in your life can help them stay active this winter whether hiking the trails, walking the mall or using a treadmill indoors and well on their way to a better old age.