7 Benefits of Walking Every Day for Older Adults
Walking isn’t the first thing that comes to people’s minds when it comes to exercise, but it’s an excellent and easy way to get some activity in your day. Older adults especially benefit from daily walks for a myriad of reasons that range from health to happiness.
Middle aged adults can reap some remarkable benefits from walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day, since it’s a simple and accessible way to help them maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Benefits of Walking for Older Adults
Contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Going to a gym to work out for hours a day may be the answer for some people, but it isn’t practical for most. Health care professionals often advise their older adults to be more careful due to their age, but maintaining an active lifestyle makes for a strong and sturdy body, no matter how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
Some of the chief benefits of walking every day for older adults are as follows.
Improve Heart Health
Cardiovascular concerns are top of mind for many people as they get older. Walking daily at a brisk pace elevates the heart rate, which then reduces the risks of heart problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attack. It can also lower the risks of stroke and diabetes.
Though walking daily has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by 30 to 50%, even walking a few times a week reduces these risks by 15 to 20%.
Lower Blood Sugar
The body sometimes experiences a spike in blood sugar after a meal, and walking can naturally reduce blood sugar levels. Just a 15-minute walk shortly after a meal allows your body to digest your meal, as well as to use the increased blood sugar to help strengthen your muscles instead. And if you rely on insulin, you may find it works better, too.
Joint pain can make it feel like you won’t be able to walk for a full minute, let alone for half an hour, but walking for older adults is an ideal, low-impact way to gently exercise the body and help reduce ongoing pain. By lubricating the joints, like your knees and back, walking can alleviate some of the consistent pain from arthritis. It also helps strengthen the muscles around the joints, thus putting less pressure on the joints themselves.
Middle aged adults who suffer from lower back pain may find it more manageable by walking for 20 minutes, three times a week.
Walking is also an excellent measure against physical disability, which can lead to older adults needing to move into long-term care homes. The exercise from regular walking works major muscle groups, which makes them stronger and more likely to last long.
Improve Mental Health
There’s a reason doctors recommend exercise for patients with mental illnesses: The endorphins released from physical activity can provide an all-natural mood boost, while reducing anxiety. The bonus is that you can benefit from those endorphins even if you don’t have a mood disorder. Everyone can use a pick-me-up sometimes, and the endorphins from walking — coupled with the fresh air — can encourage less negative thinking and a more positive outlook.
Similar to how endorphins from physical activity will boost moods, being out in the world and interacting with other human beings can have a positive effect as well. Some people naturally prefer to keep to themselves, but even the most introverted person will experience loneliness from time to time. Regular walks in a park or even around your neighborhood allow you to interact as much or as little with other people as you like.
You can even look for a walking program for older adults in which people meet and stroll while catching up and enjoying each other’s company.
Immune System Health
Research indicates people who walk regularly are less likely to get sick than those who do not exercise at all. As the body ages, the immune system can weaken, but walking is one of the ways in which you can maintain a healthy and effective immune system and better protection against day-to-day illnesses.
Gym memberships and exercise equipment be costly investments, but they’re a waste if you don’t use them regularly. As people get older, money becomes more of an issue, so investing in expensive machinery isn’t always possible. Luckily, walking doesn’t require anything except for a comfortable pair of shoes and some dedication.
Walking is one of the most cost-effective ways to exercise, and it’s a routine many people can keep because it often doesn’t feel like a workout. However, there are some amazing benefits of walking daily.
Set Relevant Goals for Yourself
Even though walking is one of the easier exercises to embark on, it still requires the same thought and planning as any other new exercise routine. It’s essential to understand your body and its limitations and to set appropriate and realistic goals. If you set unrealistic goals that are beyond your ability, you will find yourself unable to meet them, which will lead to discouragement with your whole fitness routine.
Each body is different and deserves a tailored program, which is why Excellence In Fitness promotes the SMART approach to setting fitness goals. SMART stands for the following.
- Specific: There must be a reason you’ve decided to begin a fitness routine, and pinpointing your goal is the first step. The clearer your goal is, the easier it will be to work toward it.
- Measurable: To determine the effectiveness of your routine, you need to be able to see the results. These could be as simple as losing two inches from your waist, or as complex as replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones.
- Attainable: While it’s admirable to aim high, you want to make sure that you don’t become disheartened on the journey to your goal.
- Relevant: Make sure you truly want to achieve this goal. If you’re aiming to lose weight merely because you think you should, you may not be as successful as if you were determined to do it for a specific reason.
- Time-bound: A little stress can be a good thing, so setting a time limit for your fitness goal can be good motivation to consistently work hard.
The SMART approach aims to help you set straightforward goals that provide a much better chance of positive results.
Tips to Care for Your Body
Whether you’re starting a brand-new exercise routine that will test your physical and mental limits or you’re a seasoned athlete, taking care of your body is non-negotiable.
If you’re an older adult who has decided to begin walking regularly, touch base with your doctor and understand what the risks may be to your body specifically. Create a fitness routine to suit you, rather than trying to push beyond your abilities. After all, improved well-being is the goal, and you can’t achieve that if you injure yourself.
To truly reap the benefits of walking, make sure you have a warm-up period before your walk. Start walking slowly for the first 10 minutes or so before increasing to a brisker speed.
After your walk, take a few minutes to cool down and let your heart rate return to normal. The cool-down period is the ideal time to get in some stretches as well. Stretching will help relax the muscles while they’re still warm, which will help prevent any soreness from settling in later.
You should also make sure you’re wearing the appropriate attire for walking. Dress for comfort as well as the weather, but when it comes to walking tips for older adults, investing in a good pair of walking shoes is crucial. Shoes should have proper arch support and absorb shock.
Start Your Fitness Journey With Excellence In Fitness
If you’re ready to take control of your health and fitness, Excellence In Fitness is ready to guide you. We will pair you with an experienced personal trainer to work with you one on one to establish techniques and motivation to reach your goal. We even offer a free introductory workout and consultation, so you can make a confident decision.
Get in touch today by filling out our online contact form or by calling us at 410-266-6688.