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Walking Is Life!™ Pedometer Program: Keeping Seniors Moving & Healthy!

Senior walking with granddaughter

Photo Courtesy of James Emery via Flickr

A few months ago, RadioShack® asked me if I would like to review two of their pedometers.  Of course, I accepted since I’ve found pedometers to be a good way to motivate people to exercise more.  They shipped them out promptly and I quickly put them to the test.  At first, I tested the pedometers on the trail near my house.  But then, during the trial, I had an epiphany. I am the Director of Rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility. So, why not use the pedometers there to promote increased activity and improved health for our patients?

Walking Is Life!™ (WIL)

From that inspiration, I designed a pedometer program where the therapists would track how many steps their patients took during their treatment sessions and use that information to devise a walking program prior to their patient’s return home.  The program, which we named “Walking Is Life™” (WIL), is an individualized walking program that challenges the patient with gradually increasing goals that the patient can pursue either by themselves or with assistance depending on their situation.  The overall goal of the program is to head off the usual decline in activity that patients experience after returning home and replace that with continuing improvement. That way they can improve both their quality of life and their ability to live safely in their own homes.

After designing the program, I thanked RadioShack for the review unit that they sent me, told them about the idea that it sparked and asked them if there was someone I could contact to get a discount on a bulk purchase of their units. I was both surprised and delighted when they volunteered to give us enough pedometers to launch the pilot version of our program, which we are now implementing at my facility.

What are the benefits of walking in the elderly population?

Walking is a great aerobic activity that has numerous health benefits in this population.  Not only is it a low impact, aerobic activity, that is less likely to cause injuries, but it has also been shown to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, improve mental health, improve circulation, reduce stress, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, manage weight and help keep muscles toned and in shape.

What are the benefits of using a pedometer with this patient population?

As therapists, we have noticed that when many of our patients go home, they restrict their activity level to their house and walk less than they did during their rehabilitation.  This negatively affects their quality of life. Often, the patients are not even aware that they have reduced their activity level.

That is where the pedometer comes in. With very little effort, the pedometer allows the patient to monitor their daily activity level and see if they are starting to decline in aerobic capacity.  They can take that information as a cue to do more or, if necessary, to inform their physician that something is negatively impacting their health before it becomes a more serious issue.  Also, giving the patient a program with periodic goals to accomplish and a means to track those goals helps to motivate the patient to continue working to improve their health.

The bottom line:

As therapists we are always looking for ways to empower our patients to be healthier and more active and the Walking Is Life™ pedometer program designed by us at BeingHealthy.TV does just that. The program allows therapy professionals to design an individualized, evidence based program that improves their patients’ progress both in the facility during their rehabilitation and in their home environment after they return home. Plus, giving the patient a pedometer and exercise goals to take home with them, empowers and motivates them to improve their own health.

We want to once again thank RadioShack® Corporation for sponsoring our Walking Is Life!™ Pedometer Program by giving us pedometers to improve the health of our patients. We would also like to commend RadioShack for its involvement with the Livestrong Foundation, supporting their mission with fundraising, awareness building and advocacy facilitation.  We are honored that RadioShack has taken an active interest in bettering the lives of our patients as well.  Thank you!

Comments (5)

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  1. Isabel says:

    This is a Great Idea! The Pedometer would be a great idea for the elderly in our family as well as for myself. When I was teaching we had Pedometers for all our students and staff in order to lower obesity and diabetes. It was a very good program because you could see more walking all around to the point that they are still doing it nowadays. This is a good habit to start students at an Elementary age. It is great to know that RadioShack® Corporation is looking into this health issue. Thanks!

  2. It’s important for the elderly to stay as active as they can. Even if they just take an easy walk up and down the street once a day, that is much better than nothing.

  3. sagajagads says:

    Walking is a great aerobic activity that has numerous health benefits in this population. Not only is it a low impact, aerobic activity, that is less likely to cause injuries, but it has also been shown to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, improve mental health, improve circulation, reduce stress, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, manage weight and help keep muscles toned and in shape.

  4. lt says:

    I have a 90 yr old with a walker who would love to track his steps since indeed it motivates him, however we haven’t been able to find a pedometer which will “track” him properly as he is a “slow” & “Irregular step” walker. Have you found & can you recommend a pedometer that is best suited for the these elderly walkers.

    • Talli van Sunder says:

      At this time, pedometers don’t work well with certain patients. It really depends on the movement of the leg and how it impacts the pedometer. If the distances walked are far enough, then a phone with a GPS can be used, but obviously that would only work over long distance and not around a house. So, it can work for a small amount of people in a small amount of instances.

      I’ll keep looking for a pedometer that works for people in the same situation as the 90 year old you mentioned. It can definitely make a large difference in motivation.

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