Many doctors, health organizations, and wellness groups advocate the importance of regular physical activity. Wherever you are at in life, it is vital to take care of your physical health through exercises and workout routines.
As common knowledge as this is, many people still find it hard to wake up in the morning and get their blood pumping. When you get used to a sedentary lifestyle, it is genuinely challenging to reset your body and adapt a healthy mindset.
However, if you want to have a long and healthy life, then it is best to start taking regular exercise seriously.
One of the best health tips for seniors who want to age gracefully is to live an active life. There are now several different programs suitable for adults in their golden years. Some examples include:
- CrossFit programs (tailored for older adults)
- Pilates classes
- Dancing (e.g., Zumba and salsa)
- Streaming exercises
However, there is one kind of exercise that proves to be the most cost-efficient, convenient, and not to mention beneficial for seniors—walking!
The Benefits of Walking
Most people automatically connect exercise to gym workouts and fitness studio sessions. But exercise can actually be done anywhere and in simpler forms, such as taking a daily stroll every day.
According to health experts, walking proves to be a powerful form of natural exercise. It benefits not only the physical aspect of seniors but also their mental and emotional health.
Here are some of the beneficial effects of taking a leisure stroll around the neighborhood each day.
1. Trims the Waistline
Regular brisk walking helps you trim down that waistline and maintain good body shape. Aside from helping you lose weight, it also helps in decreasing your likelihood of developing serious diseases like heart ailments, hypertension, and diabetes.
Walking every day aids you in burning calories, but the number of calories burned depends on the manner of your walking exercise, like:
- Walking speed
- Your weight
- Duration of walk
- The surface you are walking on (e.g., terrain, flat road)
2. Strengthens Bones and Joints
Bone health usually becomes the most problematic body system when you turn 65. As your body ages, your bones and joints lose a considerable amount of density, calcium, and other minerals.
This results in a weakened locomotive function such as walking, running, and sitting. It also affects your posture and body strength. If not addressed early on, this can lead to severe medical conditions like osteoporosis and bone fracture.
According to studies, one of the most useful health tips for seniors who want to avoid these diseases is to get their joints moving.
Some of the healthful benefits of walking to your bones, joints, and muscles include:
- Prevents bone density reduction
- Lubricates the joints
- Strengthens bones, joints, and muscles
- Prevents arthritis and osteoporosis
- Avoids 40% of hip fractures in menopausal women
- Eases joint pains
You can reap these benefits with 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking each day. Sounds useful rather than spending a generous sum of dollars on a gym membership, right?
3. Protects Your Heart Health
Another organ that needs to be protected from the effects of aging and other medical conditions is your heart.
Fortunately, taking an everyday stroll of one to two miles already does wonders for your blood pressure and body circulation. Walking daily for 30 minutes reduces your chance of having a stroke by 20%–40% if you up your pace.
Brisk walking preserves your heart health by strengthening it, improving your blood circulation, raising the heart rate, and warding off cardiovascular diseases.
4. Promotes Mental Health
Walking might be a physical activity, but you cannot deny the positive impact it has on your mental well-being.
According to WHO, any natural physical activity such as regular walking promotes psychological and mental empowerment.
It is useful in developing one’s self-confidence, which can combat a senior’s tendency to withdraw socially. A healthy stroll also:
- Boosts your energy by increasing your cortisol and epinephrine levels.
- Puts you in a good mood
- Improves sleep quality
- Decreases anxiety, stress, and fatigue
- Reduces risk of falling to mental illness (e.g., depression)
- Enhances memory, learning, and processing
- Increases self-perception and self-esteem
Moreover, walking is a low-impact exercise that fits all ages. You can do your morning walks with a loved one, thus providing a healthy social life.
5. A Long and Healthy Life
An important endpoint to daily walking, which is also the wish of every older adult, is an extended lifespan.
Research states that walkers, especially those who do it at a fast pace, live a healthier and longer life. Their brisk walking helps reduce their overall death by up to 20%.
This is because your daily walk in the park wards off severe medical conditions that usually result in premature mortality. This includes:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Autoimmune diseases
It also boosts your immune system, reducing your risk of acquiring infectious diseases like colds and flu.
Make Walking a Routine
To get the best of its benefits, you should try to do brisk walking for 30 minutes as much as you can each week. However, if you have been inactive for a long time, start slowly so as not to overexert your body.
You can start by walking at a slow pace for 10 minutes each day or every other day. Then gradually increase your routine until you become comfortable doing a 30-minute walk.
Here are some ways on how you can incorporate walking in your everyday life until it becomes a routine.
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator
- Walk when you run some nearby errands
- Walk your dog to and from the park
Safety should also be an essential consideration when you decide to make walking an everyday routine. Walking as an exercise may be one of the best health tips for seniors, but you should still put your safety as a top priority.
Whether you have an underlying medical condition or not, it is essential to consult with your GP first before starting any routine.