6 Benefits of Taking a Daily Walk
We’ve all heard how important exercise is for wellness. In fact, one question a physician asks during an annual physical is how much exercise you are getting. If you are trying to make physical activity a priority as we head into spring, consider taking a daily walk.
It’s a form of exercise you can do on your own, with a friend or neighbor, or even with a furry, four-legged pal. From stronger core strength to improved mental health, here are a few ways walking helps seniors.
Walking Your Way to Better Health
- Lowers risk of falling
Falling is a common concern for seniors. Not only are older adults at increased risk for falls, but they are also more likely to experience a serious injury if they fall.
Walking is proven to help prevent falls among seniors because it improves balance, core strength, and coordination. It also increases flexibility in joints and strengthens overall muscle and bone mass. If the senior does fall, the benefits derived from walking often decrease the severity of injuries.
- Aids in managing blood pressure
As we age, many of us develop high blood pressure. While some of it can be linked to genetics, lifestyle can also play a role. A poor diet or sedentary lifestyle can contribute to a rise in blood pressure.
Routine walking has been shown to be as effective as some medications in regulating blood pressure. It helps strengthen the heart, which typically makes it more efficient at pumping blood. That aids in managing blood pressure.
- Helps control cholesterol
Another health battle older adults often struggle with is maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Uncontrolled bad cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in the arteries, leading to a heart attack. By increasing the amount of good cholesterol in the blood while simultaneously reducing the amount of bad cholesterol, seniors can avoid or delay health problems. Walking is a great way to naturally control cholesterol. “Understanding Cholesterol Screening Results” will help you learn more about cholesterol and screenings.
- Lowers blood sugar
Seniors are more likely to experience spikes in blood sugar, especially after eating. Taking a walk after eating has been shown to reduce those spikes, allowing the body to use the blood sugar efficiently.
- Boosts mental health
Exercise releases hormones called endorphins. These hormones reduce your perception of pain while heightening positive feelings. This means that engaging in fitness activities like walking could improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, lessen anxiety, and lower stress.
Where you walk can further lift the spirit. A botanical garden or park where you are surrounded by nature’s beauty can give you even more of a boost.
- Helps maintain healthy weight
It’s an unfortunate reality that as our age increases, our metabolism decreases. This makes seniors more susceptible to weight gain. Walking, combined with a healthy diet, can help seniors maintain their weight by burning more calories than they consume.
As is true of all forms of exercise, talk with your primary care physician about walking if you haven’t been active lately. The general guideline for seniors is to exercise 150 minutes a week. While that number may seem overwhelming, breaking it into sessions helps.
Many people just starting out begin with two 15-minute walks five days a week. As you become stronger and stamina improves, you might want to walk once a day for a longer period. The most important thing is to set a goal and stick with it.
Bookmark the Life Protect Blog
Aging well requires staying on top of the latest research and trends on healthy eating, exercise, preventative medical screenings, and more. One way to do that is by bookmarking the Life Protect blog and stopping back each week. We update this blog regularly to make it easier for seniors and their loved ones to stay informed.