Benefits of mountaineering in the elderly

By: Marco Herrera

Regular exercise has been shown to be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. However, as people age, it can be difficult to find a suitable routine that meets your physical capabilities. Fortunately, seniors can turn to mountaineering as a fun and active outdoor activity that they can adapt to their skill level and needs.

Positive effects of mountaineering
Mountaineering gives seniors the opportunity to walk in nature and engage in an activity that is easier on their joints, as many routes are more comfortable than walking on asphalt. Seniors who walk at least four hours per week reduce their risk of cardiovascular problems, according to the American Geriatrics Society (@AmerGeriatrics). In this sense, the benefits for the elderly, according to the Spanish Heart Foundation (@cuidarcorazon), are:

Improved cardiovascular health and circulation.
Reduces arthritis, joint and knee pain.
Increases bone density, which can improve bone health and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Strengthens the muscles.
Reduces feelings of depression and isolation.
Increases cognitive function.
Improve memory.
It favors reaction time.

How to find the correct route
Some routes are more difficult than others. Interested people should try a short, flat trail first. Once a certain level of comfort is reached on that route, the length and intensity of the route should be gradually increased over time. Finding the right path to start can take some time.

For elderly people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility, look for paths that specify their accessibility and that have a walkway and ramps that facilitate the journey. It is especially common to find these types of trails near active adult retirement communities, assisted living communities, and nursing homes.

Preparation Tips for Seniors
Every hiker, regardless of her age, should be prepared for a hike in the mountains. Older people should be especially aware of the following:

-Stay hydrated, carry several bottles of water.
-Wear comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots.
-Bring coats and be aware of possible changes in the weather (rain gear, hat, gloves, etc.)
-Bring a trail map.
-Wear some sun protection, including a hat and sunglasses.
-Carry a small emergency kit, which should include first aid care, food, water, and an alternate form of communication in case you need help and you don’t have cell phone coverage.
-Let someone who isn’t hiking with you know where you plan to go, your route, and your estimated time of return.

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