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Walk or Run — Do What Works for You

There are runners, and there are walkers. I’ve tried both, and my preference is walking. But as long as you’re exercising (and having a good time), that’s all that counts. Explore how to create a healthy lifestyle with the AARP® Staying Sharp® Fit & Fun eight-week challenge. Learn more at AARP Staying Sharp today!

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Bronze Conversationalist

I have always used walking as my go to exercise. After reading about it's health benefits, I learned that it was beneficial to increase speed or at least vary your speed over your distance (mostly 3 miles). So, in January 2021, I started to measure my time via a Runners App. with the initial goal of walking at an average of 4 miles per hour or a 15 minute mile or 45 minutes for a 3 mile walk. It took a few months, but I attained my goal; and, I am now walking 3 miles in about 42 minutes which is about 4.25 miles per hour. Another good feature was meeting other folks with similar goals. That introduced me to running as an additional way to increase my time for 3 miles. Although I do not run as frequent as I walk, I ran four 5 K races in both 2021 and 2022 in the age 70 to 79 age bracket. My best time recorded for the 8 races was 30 minutes 56 seconds. I finished third in that race( September 2022). First and Second were taken by a 70 and 75  year old with times in the 25 and 28 minute ranges. So, I got work to do. I was amazed as to how many folks ages 60 and above are running, in general, and in 5 K races. Both walking and running are excellent exercises.

Contributor

As I runner in my 70s I have learned that there will always be a few folks who can still run really amazing times.  Often these folks have been running their whole lives and are superior athletes, especially compared to me.  I think you are doing fantastic right now!  Improving pace at our age is a bit risky as injuries come more easily and they never seem to fully heal like they did when we were younger.  A lot of my running injuries occur from trying to go too fast and as I get fatigued my form breaks down and injuries happen.  So, I have swallowed my ego and just go slower (except once in a while....ha).  I think adding in strength and flexibility training (eg yoga) is absolutely critical to avoid injuries.  Because let's face it, at our age one significant injury can end your running career.  Have fun, stay fit so you can continue to do the things you enjoy.

Bronze Conversationalist

@jk8527 Thanks for your positive reply and advice. I agree that strength and flexibility are important.  I recently registered for a Demo class regarding Tai Chi. If I like the Demo, I will register for the 8 week course which will end around April 1. Just in time for outdoor Spring training. I live in the Midwest. So, winter (snow and ice) can be challenging for outdoor walkers/runners. I currently walk/run at a Fitness Center with an indoor track. It is 440 feet which means you need 12 laps for a mile and 36 laps for a 3 mile workout. Thank God for earphones and Apple music.

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I ran daily, training for marathons, from age 14 into my 50s. Now approaching my mid-60s, I am unable to run comfortably due to lower back issues. Walking is the next best thing. It's better than doing nothing!

Contributor

I am a strong believer that staying active is a key contributor to a healthy lifestyle. I retired in 2019 at 61. My first day of retirement I made sure I was out of bed early and started walking. The walking evolved to jogging and running to the point that I was running 6 miles 5 days a week. My father and grandfather had heart problems and both died after heart attacks at 60 and 70 respectively. I have lost 70 pounds, BMI 20, BP is on average 110/60 with no medication, total cholesterol below 180. I see my PCP annually and a cardiologist for ongoing screenings. I am more aware of making healthy diet choices. I injured my meniscus a year ago. Physical therapy, no surgery, has allowed me to return to running/jogging 4 miles 5 days a week. I listen to my body and focus on the benefits of staying active. I consider myself fortunate and blessed with good health. I don’t take it for granted. I will continue as long as my body allows. I am encouraged by all those in their 70s that are running, walking, etc. I encourage others to just keep moving.

Newbie

You are blessed to be able to run, for sure, and all your health improvements that have come along with it! You go! I walk my dogs every morning, would love to run, but with bad knees, I’m advised against that. Those running endorphins can’t be beat, but walking is the next best 🙂 and the highlight of my dogs’ day. 

Periodic Contributor

Hi Debbie,

I just love animals { all sorts, even Untamed ones }. Keep-up with what 'you are doing.'

Follow 'doctors' OR ??? orders. Endorphins???? What endorphins, Just doing it, To R-e-live stress!! Agh...

 

Keep on truckin'... mate!!  

Contributor

I believe that people should do what they are comfortable doing while following the direction of a good physician.  I am 70 and certainly am not an athlete.  But, I have been running for years and continue to run 5 to 6 miles 4 times each week.  My physician encourages me to keep going as long as I enjoy what I am doing.  Walking is wonderful exercise too and I love to hike and take good long walks.  For me, running is the engine that gives me fitness to do the other things I enjoy in life.  Running coaches often say that the secret sauce is "consistency".  I think that is true no matter what form of exercise you choose.  But, I think running as we age also requires an equal dose of strength and flexibility work too.

Periodic Contributor

Maggie, Maggie...

 

It still IS a toss-up, between Running & walking??  BUT if asked swimming Or riding a bicycle. Now you Have MY attention.  Because i am 'wiser' gentleman. I can still run, however i choose to walk. This is due to the 'jarring' effect running has on an older person.  Which is not recommended for Anyone older than 60 years plus, Or who has knee problems.

 

Toodles!! 

 

PS  did NoT mean to steal your 'thunder.'

Contributor

Um, who is recommending no running for anyone older than 60?  Probably the same people who say running is "bad for the knees."  I have run numerous ultra-marathons as well as other strenuous events and other distances and I'm approaching 64.  And will continue to do so.

Social Butterfly

I'll walk cause I sure can't run!

Contributor

2Papa, I love your post. It's as precise as it is short. You are doing what you can do and that's all anyone can ask of a person. If you are consistent and happy, that's what counts when the rubber meets the road. I sat on my patoot for too many years and did nothing which is the worst thing I could have done because I had health issues that could have been greatly improved if I'd put on some walking shoes and started moving. I had no good excuse at all. I also walk because I sure can't run. It's been one of the best things I've ever done for myself. Hurray for all of us who do what we can do
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I'm almost 75 and very active, but I am not physically able to run. I love to walk though. I enjoy being outdoors and observing all things around me in nature and I'm also a people watcher. I've walked in rain, snow, wind and temps in the 20's. During the summer I'll be challenged by the oppressive heat. I don't walk on snow or ice and I feel a bit in the dumps on days I'm not able to walk at least 2 miles at a bare minimum. I like to go for 4 miles when I have the time. I began walking to help lower my high triglycerides and it worked wonders with my lab work. But, even if I didn't have a health issue to consider I think I'd keep walking since I enjoy it so much. If I had to go to a gym somewhere and do my walking on a treadmill, I would; but as long as I can walk outdoors I'm going to keep on keepin' on, as they say. At present I walk alone because I don't know of anybody who walks as regularly as I do or at the pace I walk. I try to keep my time at a 20-22 minute mile so I can really get my heart and blood pumping. I'm not as concerned about steps as I am getting my cardio up. I use a walking app with GPS and keep track of my daily statistics.

Bronze Conversationalist

@JeansLady I understand the challenges of outdoor walking/running in Four Seasons. I live in the Midwest and each Season has a challenge. IMO, early Autumn/Fall seems to be the best. Winter with snow and ice is the worst. As an alternative to a treadmill, I joined a Fitness Center that has an indoor track with three lanes. Faster walkers/runners use the outside lane. Everyone else use the middle and inside lanes. IMO, the indoor track is similar to walking/running outside inasmuch as you can vary your speed and you have turns. I realize you can vary your speed on a treadmill, but I never did. Also, the treadmill does not have turns. Lastly, I agree that walking and exercise, in general , will improve lab results. If you start a few months before any lab tests, obtaining results in the acceptable ranges is enough of a reward to continue walking, running, and/or exercising. The next challenge is to continue your efforts overtime. Good Luck. 

Contributor

I live in south central Kansas so weather is a major factor every day of life in general. Around here we say "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few hours and it will change." I walked 2 miles today in a temp of 22 degrees - I kept it short. A lot of the time the wind bothers me more that the actual temp since wind chills very often register 10+ degrees colder than the actual temp. I plan to contact the fitness centers near me before the intense heat of summer arrives. I wasn't walking in last summer's heat. I'd like to use a track rather than a treadmill for some reason. I may be wrong, but I think cold is easier to handle than heat when walking. I have my lab work every May and November so it will be great for me to see the results of walking every 6 months. My mother once told me "You're either all in or all out. There is no middle of the road with you." She is right and on the walking I am "ALL IN." People tell me I'm crazy when I walk in the rain with an umbrella or when I walk in 22 degree weather; but I happily tell them that I'm obsessed and loving it. I walked 3 miles in the snow last year on Christmas Day and it was a superb experience on many levels. Walking has really enriched my life and I'm excited. 

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Try a fitness center in your area during these cold snowy months. Try pickle ball. Meet people. That’s my sunshine.

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I like to walk & stop to look at the clouds, trees, birds, squirrels, airplanes & young families with children (reminds me when my boys were young).  It’s a lovely way to get outdoors and be a part of the earth with my husband. Sometimes we pack a snack or lunch, always water.  Clears my mind & helps me sleep better.

Periodic Contributor

I used to run when I was younger. Now all I can do is walk.

 

Contributor

Walking is good for our body & spirit. My mom died in 2019 at 101 years old. She use to walk every day because she said it made her feel better to move. If the weather was bad she walked inside.

 

Contributor

I have two knee replacements and running is uncomfortable so I walk. Walk for solitude, walk with my wife to catch up with each other, and walk the dog. I also do a lot of strength training which helps my endurance and walking balances this out. Getting outside to walk is relaxing and calms me not to mention having a lot of health benefits as we know.

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