They do a lot of it here in Gijon, in the northern coastal of province of Asturias. Like any city, the roughly 300,000 Asturianos walk for many reasons: transportation to / from work, daily necessities & markets, futbol matches, recreation & fitness (for them and their 4-legged pals) and just to be outside in the fresh air. Also, Spaniards are a very social bunch, so more reason to get out and walk with friends, family, or neighbors.
But what strikes me so much is the number of elderly (some of them very elderly), injured, rehabilitating, sick, etc…that are out with everybody else. Many times it’s with care-givers holding onto, pushing in wheelchairs, or generally acting as crutches for these folks to get out and walk! As a Physical Therapist, I often find myself watching some of these people and cringing, waiting for them to trip, topple, and fall flat on their brittle-bone faces. But they don’t! I haven’t seen 1 elderly person fall yet, and there are a LOT of them here.
What’s the secret? Well…walking, of course. But it’s also that they’re walking outside (instead of a hospital / rehab floor or a retirement home hallway that’s been intentionally cleared of all obstacles), offering a “real” environment with real obstacles, distractions, varied surfaces, all the aspects of “real” challenges to the body, brain, and balance systems. And not to mention riding on buses-I’ve seen several quite elderly folks climb up the bus steps, balance themselves while they try to find a seat as the driver pulls out oblivious to their slow movement, manage to find a seat, and sit, all the while holding 2 bags of groceries and a purse on their shoulder!
AND NO FALLS – INCREDIBLE!