It’s Summer—Get Outside and Start Walking
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services
It’s July, summer is in full swing in Peoria County, and winter’s cabin fever is almost forgotten. Now is the perfect time to get out of doors and take a walk! A walk in the neighborhood is an enjoyable way to stay in touch with friends and neighbors and get some needed exercise at the same time.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination each week. Walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes at least five times a week is an excellent way to reach this level of activity. It doesn’t require special skills, a gym membership or expensive equipment. Why not add walking to your daily routine?
Before You Start
Before you embark on a regular walking program you should check in with your healthcare professional if you are over 65, have been sedentary for a while, and don’t exercise. Likewise if you have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or diagnosed with heart problems, touching base with your healthcare professional is a good idea.
Set realistic expectations for yourself. Thirty minutes at a good pace may cover 1.5 miles or more. You may need to ease into your program by starting out at a slower pace or shooting for a shorter distance. Don’t overtax your body. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.
Find walking shoes that are comfortable and fit your feet. The Mayo Clinic has a useful guide to walking shoes at tinyurl.com/acswalking.
Wear comfortable clothing. Because walking generates body heat, wear lighter clothing than the temperatures would seem to indicate.
Beyond Your Neighborhood
For a change of scene for your warm weather walks, take advantage of the Peoria park system. The Peoria Park District (peoriaparks.org, (309) 682-1200) maintains nearly 60 square miles of parks and recreational facilities; the opportunities for out of doors and nature walks are many. The district’s catalog, Playbook, describes all of its facilities and programs and is available for viewing or download on the district website. Some highlights for walkers:
Organized nature-themed walks are available at
- Forest Park Nature Center (5809 N Forest Park Drive), which hosts variety of nature themed walks throughout the summer,
- Tawny Oaks Field Station (715 W Singing Woods Road, Edelstein), which has nature themed walks, including Mid-morning Warbler Walks, and,
- Luthy Botanical Garden, with First Sunday Afternoon Garden Walks.
Paved and fairly level walking paths are located in
- Becker Park: 0.6 miles,
- Northtrail Park: 1 mile,
- Chartwell Park: 0.6 miles,
- Franciscan Recreation Complex: 0.5 miles, and
- Stadium Park: 0.45 miles.
For location information, call the Peoria Park District or go to peoriaparks.org.
Summer and autumn are the perfect times to be in the parks. Don’t let yourself miss them.
When the Weather Doesn’t Cooperate
On days when it’s raining or the outdoor temperature is in the 90’s, consider mall walking. It gets you out of the weather into a climate-controlled environment where you can walk in comfort. Vehicular traffic isn’t a consideration—you will not have to dodge cars and trucks. Restrooms and water are nearby in the mall and, if you become a regular, there’s a good chance you will make new acquaintances of other mall walkers. Coffee and breakfast snacks are an extra treat. Because you will be walking on a hard surface, wear shoes with a little extra cushioning to absorb the impact.
The Northwoods Mall (2200 W War Memorial Drive, Peoria) is open every morning at 6:30 for those that want to walk. One trip around, walking down each hallway (on either level) is one quarter of a mile.
Illinois Central College’s Fitness Center features an indoor track and is open to members of the community. Senior (55+) and veteran memberships are $25; track-only access can be purchased for $15 for 10 visits. The Fitness Center is located on East Peoria Campus in the CougarPlex (1 College Drive, East Peoria). Call (309) 694-5419 for more information.
If lack of transportation to a park, nature center or indoor facility is an obstacle, consider hiring a home care companion to be your walking buddy. Some home care agencies can provide a companion who will drive you to the gym or park and accompany you on your walk, providing you with an extra margin of safety and security.
AC Skylines Home Care provides in–home care and nursing services. For more information and a no–charge consultation, call AC Skylines Home Care Services at (309) 689–5343 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.acskylineshomecare.org or Facebook.com/ACskylinesHomeCare.
Apostolic Christian Skylines’ continuing care retirement community offers senior living options ranging from independent living to skilled nursing care. For more information, call Apostolic Christian Skylines at (309) 683-2500 or send email to email@example.com. Visit www.acskylines.org or Facebook.com/acskylines.