Most of us take walking for granted until we get a little older. The simple task of putting one foot in front of the other suddenly becomes painful or difficult as we age. It has been proven to be very important for seniors to keep moving – and walking.
1. Walking Helps You Maintain Flexibility and Mobility
A trial conducted by the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders found that those who walk and stay active are less likely to become disabled.
The study included 1,600 men and women who were between the ages of 70 and 89. One group was assigned an exercise program that included walking as well as balance and strength exercises. The other group participated in educational workshops on healthy aging and were assigned gentle stretching routines.
After 2-1/2 years, the group that exercised was 28% less likely to become disabled compared to the education group.
Walking on a regular basis will help you maintain your mobility and your flexibility because you’re using these important muscles. “Move it or lose it,” so they say.
2. Walking Gets the Blood Pumping
A brisk walk will get the blood pumping and elevate your heart rate. Improved circulation nourishes your organs and muscles while helping improve heart health.
The American Heart Association recommends daily walks for better cardiovascular health, which is a leading cause of death in the United States.
Getting started is easy. All you need is a pair of sneakers and some time.
- Walk in the park with friends.
- Take the dog for a stroll around the neighborhood.
- Walk around the mall and window shop.
There are many ways to work walking into your daily routine.
3. Walking Outdoors Can Help Alleviate Stress and Prevent Depression
Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from depression. Walking may help alleviate symptoms, particularly if you walk in a park or natural setting.
A 2015 study found that people who walked in a natural area for 90 minutes had decreased activity in the area of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
While experts still don’t have the full picture on the connection between nature and lower depression rates, they believe mindfulness may have something to do with it. When walking out in nature, you must be mindful of where you step and of your surroundings. Shifting your focus can help keep your mind off negative thoughts that may be causing depression symptoms.
Walking in a natural setting may also provide you with some sun exposure, which is a natural mood-booster.
4. Walking Can Keep You Social
Making friends and family a part of your daily walking routine can help you maintain your social connections.
Maintaining relationships with friends and family is important.
As we age, it becomes increasingly important for us to maintain social connections with others in the community and family. Walking together is a great way to do this.
If you don’t know anyone who would be interested in joining you, consider starting up a walking group and spreading word about it. You’ll make some new friends along the way.
5. Walking Makes You Feel Good
Walking gets you moving, which causes your body to release endorphins. These chemicals interact with receptors in the brain to reduce your perception of pain.
Endorphins also make you feel good. Its effects are similar to morphine. That’s why people get a euphoric feeling after exercising.
Walking, and exercise in general, can help:
- Ward off depression and anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep quality
- Boost your self-esteem
6. Walking Keeps You Healthy
The most important benefit of walking – for seniors and everyone else – is that it keeps you healthy.
Exercise offers a number of health benefits:
- Boosts your energy levels
- Strengthens your heart
- Improves your strength and muscle tone
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Reduces body fat
Walking and exercise in general should be a part of your routine. Even if you’ve never maintained an exercise routine in your life, now is a great time to start and walking is a great exercise to start with. Begin with just a few minutes a day, and work your way up to longer walking times in the future.
7. Walking Keeps You “Regular”
Improved regularity is one side effect of walking that many seniors don’t expect. Experts say daily walking can improve gastric mobility.
When we walk, we use our core and abdominal muscles. Movement in this area encourages movement in the gastrointestinal system.
If coffee is what’s keeping you regular now, walking will be your new solution to keeping you regular.
Another added benefit of walking: It helps reduce the appearance of varicose veins. While not an important reason to start walking, it is a nice perk that may keep you motivated to get out on the trail each morning.
With so many health benefits to staying active, there’s no time like the present for seniors to adopt a walking routine.