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Walk for Your Health! Walk for Fun!

As seniors age, it’s important to incorporate exercise into daily routines, as exercise helps with strength, flexibility and balance. One of the best ways to make exercise a habit is to walk on a regular basis. Walking for seniors is linked to better overall cardiovascular health. Health providers recommend at least 2.5 hours of brisk walking every week for seniors 65 or older, about 30 minutes on most days.

Now that it is officially summer, it is easier than ever to don a pair of sneakers or walking shoes and head outdoors for a short walk or longer excursion.

Walking around one’s neighborhood is convenient and can be done on a daily basis. But for those times when you’d like a change of scene and terrain give one of these trails a try. They vary in length, but are all easily accessible and mostly flat making for a pleasant — and doable — walking experience.

For the most enjoyable day, plan to walk with a friend or partner. Good conversation, fresh air, beautiful scenery, and an invigorating or leisurely walk are a winning combination for a senior outing.

Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray, along with a camera or phone to snap a few pictures. Be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning any new exercise program.

Mud Pond, Jefferson

Seniors looking for a short hike with a pretty view at the endpoint will want to give Mud Pond in Jefferson a try. The easy 0.6-mile hike is handicap accessible and perfect for seniors and anyone who needs assistance in navigating a trail. The packed trail surface transitions to a raised boardwalk that meanders through a black spruce/northern white cedar swamp and ends at a viewing platform overlooking Mud Pond. Trees ring the pond and you’ll almost always find ducks on the water. There is a slight uphill elevation change on the return walk to the parking area, and care should be taken on the boardwalk as it can be slippery when wet. Access is off Route 116 in Jefferson, about five miles from the center of Whitefield. Look for the Silvio Conte Refuge sign on the right.

Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson & Whitefield

The 1.5-mile, almost flat walking trail at the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge leads to a viewing platform at Cherry Pond with magnificent views of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Pondicherry is a noted bird refuge, and many species can be found throughout the year. Other wildlife, like moose, may also be spotted. This is also a great trail to walk with older grandkids or grandkids in a stroller, as there is plenty of room on the wide trail to walk abreast or for kids to run ahead, while grandparents keep a watchful on them. Access to the refuge is from Airport Road in Whitefield, at the kiosk directly across from Whitefield Power and Light plant.

Littleton Riverwalk

There are many reasons to visit downtown Littleton, and among them is Littleton’s Riverwalk, which is connected on both sides of the Ammonoosuc River by a handsome covered bridge. The 352-foot Riverwalk bridge offers fantastic views of the river as it rushes and tumbles over large boulders. Stroll the flat footpath along the river, from the covered bridge to the suspension bridge (for sure-footed walkers only). Wildflowers, shrubs and trees, and the sound of the river burbling over rocks contribute to the pleasure of this short walk of around a half-mile total. Mill Street on the other side of the river has a paved sidewalk overlooking the beautiful Ammonoosuc. Be sure to make a stop at Harmony Park where five stationary musical instruments invite hands-on musical interpretation. No experience is necessary to try one’s hand at the booming chimes, three different xylophones, and colorful drums. Shaded picnic tables are adjacent to Harmony Park for those who want to stop for some refreshments. Parking is available on both sides of the bridge.  

Franconia Notch Recreation Path

Energetic senior walkers can head to Franconia Notch State Park for the Franconia Notch Recreation Path, which is an 8.7 mile trail through the Notch. The paved trail, which does have elevation changes, can be walked for its entire length, or seniors can choose to walk just a mile or two and return to the parking area. A nice feature of the trail is that it touches many of the park’s attractions: the Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site, Echo Lake, and Flume Gorge, all of which are signed and are wheelchair accessible. Bicyclists also share the main trail, so it’s good to keep an eye out for them. The Recreation Path begins at the Skookumchuck trailhead, which is reached from I-93 S by taking Exit 36 onto Route 141 towards South Franconia. After turning left onto Route 141/Butterhill Road, drive 0.8 miles, then turn right onto Route 3. At 0.3 mile, look for the parking area on the left.

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