Boost your health — and your confidence — with our simple one-week plan to shake up your walking routine. (Oh, yes, and have fun, too!)
You know that walking is a powerhouse exercise. It boosts mood, prevents weight gain, and helps people live healthier, longer. You may even know that frequent treks improve sleep and memory.
But here’s the question: Are your daily strolls effective enough to give you these rewards?
“No matter who you are or what your fitness level is, it is critical to continuously change it up,” says Pam Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., author of Fit to Live and board member of the American College of Sports Medicine. When you do the same activity at the same effort level — over and over again — your body and muscles acclimate.
The result? Your gains can plateau. “Your cells require challenge to keep giving you these benefits,” Dr. Peeke explains.
The easiest way to challenge yourself: Crank up the intensity. We’re not talking about Olympic-level efforts, notes Dr. Peeke, who is, herself, a senior Olympic triathlete. It’s all about playing with your speed and distance in measured doses that feel right for you.
So, are you ready to turn your daily walk into a true workout? Join us! This week, we’re sharing everything you need to know to level-up your walking routine — no matter your starting point.
Get and stay fit with SilverSneakers! Choose from dozens of different Community classes, visit a participating fitness location, or view the current schedule of SilverSneakers LIVE online classes here.
How the 7-Day Power Your Walk Challenge Works
Everyone is welcome to join in on the fun, including SilverSneakers members and non-members. All the details you need to complete the challenge are available here on the SilverSneakers blog.
Follow the steps below to create a 7-day training plan sure to change up your walking routine — and help you stay motivated for the long haul. Click on the article links for Steps 2 through 7 for more.
Before you begin, be sure you have supportive and comfortable shoes. (More on those below.)
Want a sample training plan to follow along with? Download our 7-Day Power Your Walk Challenge Guide.
Step #1: Pick Your Plan
This challenge is divided into four different walking plans. Each plan will have tailored workouts to help you reach your goals. It’s like a pick-your-own adventure book!
Choose the plan that best fits your needs and current fitness level:
- Plan A: Get Started. This plan is for beginners or those who want to focus on making regular walking a habit.
- Plan B: Speed Up. This plan is for regular walkers who are ready for a challenge. Playing with your cadence is a great way to get a stellar workout in the same (or less) time.
- Plan C: Go the Distance. This plan is perfect for building up your endurance, whether you have a big trip coming up or just want to feel stronger, longer.
- Plan D: Walk with Assistance. This plan is for those who use a cane or walker, or who just feel a little uneasy on the go.
Not sure which plan to pick? No worries! You can always come back and go through this challenge again using another plan.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
The Best Walking Shoes for You
When it comes to choosing walking shoes, it comes down to what makes you feel good.
“As long as you feel good in it, I could care less what kind of shoe it is as long as it promotes good alignment, better balance, and allows you to walk without pain,” says Sherri Betz, P.T., D.P.T., director of TheraPilates® Physical Therapy in Louisiana and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association.
Betz is a big fan of going to a specialty shoe store and spending time with a knowledgeable person that will let you try on lots of different options. If the store has a treadmill or other walking space you can test them out on, even better.
Not near an in-person store? Many walking and running shoe brands offer full-refund trial periods that allow you to actually use the shoe before deciding if they’re for you.
Here are some other tips from Betz for picking the right shoe for you:
- Consider shoes with wide toe boxes. They let your toes spread out, preventing bunions and blisters.
- Tailor the support to your foot. Not everyone needs a super supportive, stiff shoe or one with arch support. (Unless you’re told otherwise by your doctor.) If you have a very flexible foot (aka your arches collapse when you walk, also called flat feet), you might need a shoe that has a higher heel like a running shoe and pronation control. If you have high arches or more of a rigid foot, you might prefer a shoe that’s stiffer in the middle and flexible at the toes. In other words, you shouldn’t be able to bend it in half.
- Opt for shoes with laces rather than straps. They’ll give your foot more support.
- Look for a rocker bottom sole. If you have plantar fasciitis, a rocker bottom sole will decrease the amount of push-off you need to propel yourself forward.
Bonus Challenge: Try a SilverSneakers Walk Strong (Express) Class!
In just 15 minutes, your expert instructor will lead you through moves aimed to ease lower body stiffness, strengthen your stability muscles, and build confidence. View the schedule and RSVP here.
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