What helps seniors strengthen their bones, improve circulation, improve mood and may even reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s? Hint: It’s not a prescription drug and it doesn’t cost a dime.
If you guessed walking, you’d be right. Even a casual stroll reaps a myriad of health benefits for seniors, and because it is easy on the joints and able to be done almost everywhere, it’s an ideal exercise option for almost everyone. Below is a list of some of the greatest benefits of walking for seniors to help get you motivated to lace up those sneakers.
Top Benefits of Walking for Older Adults
Walking is particularly ideal for anyone with heart disease or peripheral artery disease because it improves blood flow and increases oxygen throughout the body. A recent study at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that post-menopausal women who walked up to two miles a day lowered their blood pressure by about 11 points in 24 weeks. And women who walk 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of a stroke by 20 percent.
- Elevates Your Mood. When you take a walk, you release endorphins which act as natural painkillers and also work to better your mood. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or simply aren’t feeling that inspired, hit the sidewalk or your nearest mall for an invigorating walk.
- Improves Your Quality of Sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a walk during the day could help you sleep better at night. That’s because walking may elevate serotonin levels that help you relax. Also, walking earlier in the day raises your body temperature. In the evening, as your body cools down, you may start to feel tired, thus gearing you up for a good night’s sleep.
- Reduces Your Risk of Alzheimer’s. Several studies have shown that seniors who walk regularly are at less of a risk for developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, according to a study at the University of Virginia Health Systems of men between the ages of 71 and 93 discovered that those who walked more than a quarter of a mile daily reported half the incidence of age-related dementia than those who walked less.
- Keeps Weight At Bay. Today, almost 74 percent of women and 77 percent of men over the age of 60 are overweight – with a body mass index of 25 or higher, or have a body mass index over 30 percent; making them obese. In fact, obesity carries such a risk for older adults that it is now considered a disease itself. A daily walking routine can help you burn calories and lose fat, which in turn can keep you healthier longer.
Ready to Walk Your Way to Health?
If you’re ready add walking to your daily routine, here are some tips to get you started.
- Get the Right Shoes Do you over-pronate or are you a neutral walker? This is the kind of question an experienced shoe fitter can answer. Shoe stores that specialize in walking or running shoes are a great resource for new walkers. And while a good pair of walking shoes may be a little more expensive than a pair you’d buy at a discount store or large retailer, they’ll last a long time and help you avoid injuries associated with walking in a pair of poorly fitted shoes.
- Have an Indoor Route. Don’t let rain or snow keep from your daily walk. Malls or an indoor track can be great alternatives for cold and gray days, or when it’s too hot to exercise outside. Consider joining a gym and walking on a treadmill, and when you’re traveling, check out the airport’s website for walking routes to use during a layover.
- Enlist a Friend. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, ask a fellow senior to join you on your walk. Having a workout partner is a great way to stay motivated and to keep the stroll interesting.