The interactive digital walking map, Walks Near Me, offers countless possibilities for exploring great public spaces in NSW at no cost.
Engaging in physical activities and spending time outdoors can have significant benefits for seniors in New South Wales (NSW). Among the various forms of exercise, walking stands out as an accessible and enjoyable activity that promotes both physical and mental well-being.
This article explores the rationale for seniors to embrace walking outdoors, with the support of digital fitness, and provides essential tips and safety precautions.
A Digital Fitness Apps for Seniors to Enjoy Walking
Digital fitness apps can enhance the walking experience for seniors by providing motivation, tracking progress, and offering personalised training programmes. While there are notable fitness apps popular in NSW, the state government is taking advantage of the digital opportunities for seniors’ physical fitness with a new program.
Walks Near Me is a statewide, multi-agency project to create an interactive digital map of the entire state of NSW to catalogue all landmarks, footpaths, and public spaces. The map is available on a browser (instead of an app), which will pinpoint a user’s general location to collate all readily accessible places near them. From there, a user can plan their walk and program waypoints and the places they want to visit.
Example: If your starting point is the Aquapoint Darling Harbour in Barangaroo and you aim to travel to Marrinawi Cove on foot, you can click on Sydney Wildlife World, and the Barangaroo House, plus at least five green areas before you arrive at the Cove.
Clicking on a specific item to walk to will also reveal information as provided by the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse and the NSW Department of Customer Service.
“This new tool showcases the quality and diversity of public spaces in NSW, all on one easy to search website. This isn’t just about highlighting great places to visit, it’s about customising an exciting walking experience for each individual, so they can not only see these sights but enjoy every step along the way,” said NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen.
The Benefits of Walking Outdoors for Seniors
Walking outdoors offers numerous advantages for seniors’ overall health and well-being. It is a low-impact exercise that can be easily incorporated into daily routines, regardless of fitness level.
Some benefits of walking for seniors include improved cardiovascular health, increased strength and flexibility, enhanced mood and mental well-being, weight management, and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Tips and Safety Precautions
Before heading out for a walk using Walks Near Me, seniors should consider the following tips to ensure an enjoyable experience. While walking is generally a safe activity, it’s essential to take precautions to minimise any potential risks.
- Check with a healthcare professional. Seniors with pre-existing health conditions or concerns should consult their healthcare professional before starting a new exercise regimen, including walking.
- Wear proper footwear. Invest in comfortable, supportive footwear designed for walking. Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes can lead to discomfort and increase the risk of falls or injuries.
- Dress appropriately. To adapt to changing weather conditions, wear clothing in layers. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that provide sun protection and wear a hat and sunglasses.
- Warm up and stretch. Prior to starting a walk, warm up with some gentle stretches to prepare the muscles for exercise and reduce the risk of injury.
- Hydrate. Carry a water bottle and stay hydrated throughout the walk, especially during warmer weather. Dehydration can impact energy levels and overall well-being.
- Start slow and gradually increase intensity. Begin with shorter walks at a comfortable pace and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time. Pay attention to your body’s cues and modify your pace accordingly.
- Use proper technique. Maintain an upright posture, swing your arms naturally, and take shorter steps to maintain stability and reduce joint strain.
- Choose safe walking routes. Select well-lit and well-maintained walking trails, footpaths, or parks. Consider exploring local walking clubs or groups for added safety and social interaction.
- Be mindful of surroundings. Stay aware of your surroundings and watch out for potential hazards such as uneven surfaces, obstacles, or traffic. Use pedestrian crossings and follow traffic rules when crossing roads.
- Walk with a companion. If possible, walk with a friend, family member, or join a walking group. Not only does this provide additional safety, but it also adds a social element to the activity.
- Carry identification. Carry identification with emergency contact information in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
- Use sun protection. Apply sunscreen to exposed areas of skin and wear protective clothing to prevent sunburn and minimise the risk of skin damage.
- Stay visible. If walking during low-light hours or at night, wear reflective clothing or use a flashlight to ensure visibility to motorists and others.
- Be cautious of weather conditions. Avoid walking during extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, storms, or extreme heat. Check weather forecasts and plan your walks accordingly.
- Carry a mobile phone. Have a mobile phone with you for emergencies or to seek assistance if needed.
- Listen to your body. If you experience any pain, discomfort, or unusual symptoms during your walk, stop and seek medical attention if necessary.
Engaging in outdoor activities, particularly walking, offers a multitude of benefits for seniors in NSW. Walking not only improves physical health but also enhances mental well-being and provides an opportunity for social interaction.
By following the tips and safety precautions outlined above, seniors can safely and confidently embrace the outdoors and enjoy the many rewards that walking brings. Start at your own pace, consult healthcare professionals when needed, and make the most of the beautiful walking trails and environments that NSW has to offer.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no relationships whatsoever with the NSW government nor endorse any digital product.