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Rucking for the active older adult

Walking is a cardiovascular or aerobic exercise which is a rhythmic continuous activity. Adding variety to your daily walk for more health and wellness benefits is easy. The active older adult may enjoy Rucking in addition to Nordic Walking for a more intense walking workout..

What is Rucking? Rucking is the act of walking while carrying a load such as a backpack others wear weighted vest. The only thing that you need are a sturdy pair of walking or hiking shoes, a weighted backpack or vest, and a safe place where you can go for an extended, uninterrupted walk, you can even use your hiking sticks or Nordic Walking poles.

Benefits of Rucking Rucking combines low-to moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory or aerobic activity along with muscular strength training that comes from carrying a loaded backpack. The activity has the potential to burn calories, improve aerobic capacity and increase strength in lower body and core muscles. Rucking can help reduce risk for age-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, muscle loss or sarcopenia and osteoporosis. The amount of stress on joint while walking even when carrying a load is less than that of running.

Walking pace

Walking at a fast pace while carrying a load challenges muscles to produce energy using both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. Rucking with a backpack should result in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (somewhat hard to hard exercise).

Getting started

Good supportive walking or hiking shoes and a backpack that is strong enough to carry a load. Choose a backpack with padded shoulder straps and padded waist belt to distribute the load to the hips which makes walking more comfortable. Use your walking or hiking sticks or Nordic Walking poles as desired. Rucking is a weight-bearing activity that can be combined with other exercises such as squats, step-ups, stair climbing, lunges and heel lifts to boost muscles strength and bone density.

Choosing the load

Adults wishing less than 150 pounds start with a load of 8-10 pounds, a few water bottles in the pack can work. Individuals heavier than 150 pounds can use a 10-20 pound load. Build up the distance and load gradually. Begin with walking 10 minutes and turn around or walk a circle to complete a 20 minute walk. Increase your distance first before adding load to your pack. Progress gradually so that you provide adequate time for your body to adapt.

  • Remember to gradually warm-up the muscles and cool-down afterwards with stretches for the calf, hamstrings and quadriceps muscles.

  • Hydrate; drink water before, during and after your walk.

References: American Council on Exercise the surprise benefits of rucking(and why your clients might love it)

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