It’s never too late:
A doctor said that muscle endurance and strength improve with training regardless of age, and advised people not to allow age to limit their activity
Written by Kylie Madgar / Staff Writer
An orthopedist said that hiking can improve bone and joint health, but seniors and inexperienced hikers should start slowly to avoid injuries.
Tai Ta Wei (戴), general secretary of the Taiwan Osteoporosis Association and chief of orthopedic surgery at National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan, said hiking trails vary greatly in difficulty.
Tye wrote on his website on September 21 that the long route isn’t necessarily uphill, just as the short, steep one can be.
Photo: Tong Chin Kou, Taipei Times
He said choosing the appropriate difficulty level is an important step in preventing injury, and recommends hikers seek information on trail conditions and difficulty, including overall length and height gain.
He added that just because the trail is popular doesn’t mean it’s easy, like climbing the Marian Hiking Trail (聖母) in Jiaosi Town (礁溪) in Yilan Province.
The hike is popular with the Instagram audience for its captivating vistas that give it the apt nickname of Mount Matcha (抹茶), but the long climb to the summit is more difficult than it sounds, he wrote.
He said inexperienced hikers should start with flat trails such as those around lakes or in parks before taking trails with greater elevation gain.
Tay also suggested starting the parks with networks of trails rather than a single loop that gives hikers the option to switch to an easier trail if necessary, or a more difficult route when faced with a challenge.
Tye added that muscle endurance improves with training regardless of age, and urged people not to let them age limit, because your body will tell you what it is capable of.
The next important step, Tai said, is preparation.
Hiking shoes, a comfortable backpack and a walking stick are essential, he said, stressing that the latter can reduce stress on leg joints and help prevent falls.
He added that a well-fitted pair of hiking boots can protect against foot pain and reduce the risk of ankle sprains or other injuries, as well as lessening the impact on joints.
Ty said that a good backpack can significantly reduce back pain and make even a short day trip less tiring.
Tai said hikers should also keep an eye on the weather and keep in mind that conditions at higher altitudes can change quickly.
Since falls can be particularly dangerous for older hikers, Tay recommends avoiding slippery trails.
Finally, seniors in particular should hike in a group, Tai said.
Accidents involving individual parks can happen anywhere, even on smaller local trails, he said.
He added that when taking walks with others, people can encourage each other and help out if something goes wrong.
Tay said outdoor activity admires both mental and physical health, and urged older adults to keep up, even if their joints aren’t as strong as they used to be.
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