Health Benefits of Walking for Seniors
Walking is a workout available to most people, and walking more often remains one of the best actions someone can take to promote health. It’s a low-impact, low-cost fitness option seniors can do anywhere, and the prospective benefits of walking for older adults are meaningful to a healthy lifestyle.
Health Benefits of Walking for Older Adults
Improves Mental Health
There are short-term and long-term mental health benefits of walking for older adults. Endorphins enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise also provides a chance to take your mind off the sources of any anxieties you may be feeling. Fitness also offers a healthy coping mechanism that could replace less constructive tactics. In the long term, adhering to a walking routine, meeting goals, and seeing positive results often boosts self-confidence.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
A regular walking routine can help lower blood pressure and support weight loss over time. These two health improvements reduce strain on a senior’s arteries and heart. Additionally, aerobic exercise improves blood flow — meaning it helps lower the risk of clogging in coronary vessels, which can prevent coronary heart disease, strokes and heart attacks.
Even if you keep a slower pace, your daily walk engages an array of muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, glutes, ankles, calves and lower back, and if you pump your arms as you go, your upper body benefits as well. Growing stronger is a benefit of walking for older adults that can help you prevent falls and maintain more independence.
Walking builds muscles and can promote flexibility, so many seniors find it helps control chronic pain. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which can decrease the perception of pain. The same endorphins that make you feel happier also bind to the same neurotransmitters that common pain medications bind to. Many older adults also find the weight loss that often accompanies a new walking routine reduces stress on their joints, which leads to lower levels of daily pain.
Weight-bearing exercises like walking put healthy pressure on bones. Bones become denser from pressure in a similar fashion to the way muscles grow stronger from working against resistance. Even if you’re already living with osteoporosis, walking can help you maintain your existing bone mass.
Start a Walking Routine You’ll Like
As a general rule, older adults should try to exercise for 30 minutes five days each week, or a total of two and half hours every seven days. But seniors who haven’t exercised in a while or who are experiencing new health challenges should start their new fitness routine with small, achievable goals. Depending on your abilities, you could start by walking for 10 minutes and methodically grow your endurance. If walking for 30 minutes isn’t possible right now, you could split it up into two 15-minute walks with a break in between. No matter your starting fitness level, honor your body and its limits. Move forward with positivity.
As you achieve your smaller goals, celebrate them. Maybe you treat yourself to a favorite meal, buy some new walking shoes, or simply announce your achievement on social media. You stuck to your routine and put in the work — have some fun.
Make It Fun
As you become stronger and your endurance grows, regular walks will naturally become more gratifying. If, however, you feel your practice is growing stale, spice it up. Explore a new trail, take a friend with you, or listen to a fascinating audiobook while you walk.
At North Oaks, an active life is one of four pillars in our HealthyLife® Services wellness program. Our residents have access to fitness instructors from the National Institute for Fitness and Sport, a beautiful campus to explore on their walks, and a convenient fitness center. If you’d like to find out more about how North Oaks can help you pursue a healthy lifestyle, contact us. We’d be happy to provide you more information.