Many people spend hundreds of hours (and dollars) in gyms or enrolling in fitness programs so that they can find the best exercise routine for their health. But according to science, the best form of workout has been right under our noses all this time—walking!
Who would have thought that the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other for at least 30 minutes per day offers impressive physical and mental benefits?
Health Benefits of Walking for Seniors
Health experts consider walking a more efficient form of exercise for seniors, even those with low fitness levels and limited mobility. This aerobic exercise offers a safe way for people with knee, ankle, and back injuries to work out.
Furthermore, it is a good choice of physical activity for seniors who just started exercising. Besides being a low-impact routine, you can easily adjust your pace based on your health condition and ability.
Plus, walking is free! There’s no need to buy equipment or attend training before doing it. You can do it anywhere—around the neighborhood or at the outdoor space of your senior living community in Rancho Mirage.
Here are some of the incredible health benefits you can get by walking every day!
1. Improves Heart Health
Walking is one of the easiest cardio workouts a senior can partake in. You just need to allot 20 to 30 minutes of your mornings to brisk walking to improve your health, specifically your cardiovascular system. Here are some heart health benefits you can gain by regularly walking:
- It strengthens the heart muscles, allowing them to pump blood efficiently throughout the body.
- It increases the heart rate.
- It improves your blood circulation and brings more oxygen and nutrients to the organs of your body, such as the liver and kidneys.
- It decreases the risk of having heart diseases, like hypertension, stroke, and atherosclerosis (fat build-up in the blood vessels).
Moreover, walking daily can help manage the heart disease that some seniors already have. It improves their prognosis, especially if paired with healthy eating habits.
2. Increases Pulmonary Fitness
Besides your heart, walking regularly also strengthens and increases your lung capacity. This allows you to breathe easier and your lungs to stay healthy as you age.
This aerobic activity can also help seniors with breathing problems like asthma or impaired lung function. The first few tries you make might leave you breathless, so it’s important to pace yourself.
But in the long run, regular physical activity can improve lung health and decrease breathing problem symptoms.
3. Helps in Weight Management
Brisk walking around your senior living community in Rancho Mirage can help you maintain a healthy weight. This simple exercise enables you to burn extra calories and reduce those unwanted fats in your belly.
Additionally, walking can also aid those who want to lose weight. But of course, you should pair it with a proper diet and healthy lifestyle habits.
4. Stronger Bones and Muscles
Aging comes with plenty of body changes, such as the loss of bone tissue and the weakening of the muscles and joints. However, this does not mean that you can’t do anything about it.
According to studies, regular exercise such as walking helps improve the health of your bones, muscles, and joints as you age. Thus, making you less vulnerable to injuries, falls, and bone diseases like osteoporosis.
With walking, you get to move your whole body and bear its weight, strengthening your bones and muscles in the process. Furthermore, it is a senior-friendly workout as it is easy and gentle on the joints and bones. Other benefits of walking includes:
- Enhanced balance, coordination, overall strength, and flexibility.
- Maintains bone mass and helps joint fluid circulation.
- Decreases risk of musculoskeletal injuries, back pain, and arthritis.
- Increases your chances of being mobile later in life.
5. Boosts the Immune System
This pandemic made it clear that seniors need to take good care of their health to boost their immune system. One way to do that is to engage in regular physical activity, such as walking.
This low-impact exercise, if done regularly, can help boost the number of white blood cells in your body. These cells help fight off infections and prevent disease from affecting your health.
Moreover, walking 20 minutes per day and five days a week has been linked to fewer sick days. In contrast, those who don’t engage in walking regularly experienced sick days with much more severe symptoms.
6. Promotes Brain Health
Walking not only maintains your physical health but also keeps your mental and cognitive faculties in their top shape.
According to health experts, physical activity like brisk walking keeps the brain active and mentally sharp. As you walk every day, your blood circulation becomes healthier, thus bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This allows your brain to repair its cells, function efficiently, and even slow down its aging.
In addition, keeping up this healthy routine saves you from having debilitating brain and mental disorders, dementia, depression, and anxiety.
How to Start Walking for Exercise
Before starting this fun and healthy activity, here are some of the things you or your senior loved one should keep in mind:
- Talk to your GP. Let your doctor know about your plan to take walks as a form of exercise. They can help determine the suitable miles and minutes per day that your fitness level can safely take on.
- Start small. Walk around your senior living community at Rancho Mirage first. Then gradually add blocks or miles into your walks.
- Take it easy. Start with a good pace to avoid overexerting yourself. Either add or remove speed based on how your body responds.
- Safety first. Before going out and about, make sure to check the weather first. It’s also essential to wear the right clothes and sensible shoes. Choose a route with more shade and less vehicle traffic.
- Walk with a loved one. Invite a loved one to your morning walks. It’s an excellent way to get motivated, and it also helps enrich your relationship.