Minnesota gives seniors more time to cross streets

Seniors living in Minnesota may soon be able to have a more leisurely walk about town. Over the course of the next year, the state plans on giving people more time to cross the street. The move comes after determining older adults and other pedestrians may find it difficult crossing the street in the allotted time, the Star Tribune reports.

Currently, the guidelines assume pedestrians walk at an average rate of 3.5 feet per second, which is a bit slower than the previously-reported rate of four feet per second. Now, walkers should have about six extra seconds to get through the crosswalks in the state, though the time may vary depending on each intersection. While all Minnesota residents will reap the benefits, it is even more important to older adults, as they make up a larger swath of the population.

"As our population continues to age, it's just critical that communities are providing safe opportunities for people to cross the street and walk to destinations, as well as for recreation and health," Scott Bricker, executive director of America Walks, told the newspaper.

Any steps communities across the country take to encourage physical activity in seniors will be good for healthy aging, and making it easier to walk around town certainly falls into that category. Walking has proven to be one of the healthiest activities for seniors looking to maintain an independent lifestyle.

A 2008 study from the University of Georgia found older adults who participate in a regular walking program have a 41 percent greater chance of maintaining their independence. Furthermore, program participants increased their aerobic capacity by 19 percent while increasing physical function by 25 percent.