Richard’s Almanac: The benefits of walking

COURTESY PHOTO | From left: Laurie Fanelli, Claire Freese, Susan Baron, Alison Binder, Virginia Springsteen, Giovanna Ketcham, Robert Springsteen and Jeanne Compton visited Blossom Hollow Ranch last week.

COURTESY PHOTO | From left: Laurie Fanelli, Claire Freese, Susan Baron, Alison Binder, Virginia Springsteen, Giovanna Ketcham, Robert Springsteen and Jeanne Compton visited Blossom Hollow Ranch last week.

I  just heard from Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli that she’s considering instituting a walking program for older folk. She’s envisioning a “walk and talk” along Louis’ beach on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon.

“This would be for seniors who enjoy companionship, like walking and want to reduce their chances of developing health problems,” Laurie explained, adding that the walks may possibly improve walkers’ memories. And everyone is welcome, even those with walkers, she said.

AARP studies show that the best thing you can do to keep your brain in shape is to get “off the couch and head out the door for a brisk walk.”

Laurie noted that the study showed that just one year of walking three times a week can increase the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s key to memory and which begins to shrink with age. The walks would be held year-round but not during bad weather.

Laurie told me that she sees the walks starting at Sunset Beach restaurant and going to the Pridwin, turning around there and heading back. Walks would take place along the sidewalk.

If you are interested, call the Senior Center at (631) 749-1059 so she can begin to get the program organized.

By the way, it has been shown that exercise for most people is most productive when done with others. That’s why we have so many gyms around. There’s the exercise aspect and the social component.

Meanwhile, a group of seniors traveled last week to Blossom Hollow Ranch in Calverton to experience the Spirit’s Promise horse rescue program.

“At Spirit’s Promise we rescue horses and give them a new purpose as teachers and healers,” according to the group’s website.

Laurie said last week’s visit by Silver Circle members was such a success that the equine program will continue on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Members were able to interact with the rescued horses and feel their positive feedback to humans.

On another subject, I noticed a bit of news in Sunday’s New York Post headlined: “Retiring later only to die sooner.”

According to reporter Ben Steverman, the retirement age is rising but life spans are not necessarily extending. The age for getting Social Security is gradually moving up and more seniors are working longer, he reports.

Almost one in three Americans age 65 to 69 is still working. Almost one in five work in their early 70s.

Mr. Steverman also reports that Americans in their late 50s already have more serious health problems than people at the same age did 10 to 15 years ago.

He says that according to the latest figures from the Society of Actuaries, life expectancy for pension participants has dropped by 0.2 years. A 65-year-old man can expect to live to 85.6 years and a woman can expect to make it to 87.6.

Interesting stuff.

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