Many of us don’t even give a second thought to how often we walk. Sure some cross-fit junkies may scoff at the idea of walking as exercise (we love a good cross fit session too…don’t get us wrong), but a leisurely stroll each day can do wonders for your body, especially as you age.
As our bodies get older, strenuous exercise becomes much more difficult. The good news is that the benefits of walking can be just as beneficial as a long distance run or weight training.
Simply put, walking regularly can help you in several ways:
- Walking improves circulation
- May help fight osteoporosis by strengthening bones
- Can lighten your mood
- Help you lose weight
- Stay active longer
Don’t kid yourself, walking is definitely exercise. And like most other physical activities, it can help you prevent unwanted weight gain and stay at a healthy body weight.
The simple activity of walking gets your blood flowing, which improves your cardiovascular health.
In fact, a 2013 study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology showed that a long walk could be just as stimulating as a run. People who run or walk long distances daily lowered their blood pressure by an average of 4.2% and decreased their risk of cardiovascular disease by 4.5%.
A well-timed walk can also help you stay energized. After big meals we typically feel tired and ready for an afternoon nap, but a short walk after lunch can boost your energy levels and get you over that midday hump.
Unlock More Energy with the Hidden Benefits of Walking
The benefits of walking can be especially great for seniors. As we mentioned earlier, strenuous physical activities become much more difficult with age, but walking is a great substitute.
A study done at Tufts University followed 4,207 men and women for over a decade. The average age of the participants in the study was 73, and the goal of the study was to measure the effects of light physical activity in seniors.
The study found that those who participated in light physical activities regularly were at a much lower risk of developing heart conditions or suffering from a stroke. Those who took longer walks were at even lower risks.
Researchers found that those who walked for longer distances were at a 36% lower risk for coronary heart disease, 54% lower risk of stroke, and 47% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Those are pretty great statistics!
What’s more interesting is that the researchers also discovered that a walker’s pace also made a big difference as well.
Those who walked at 3 miles per hour or quicker showed a 50% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, or suffering from a stroke.
It’s great reason to put some pep in your step and take a stroll around the neighborhood once a day. The researchers also found comparable results in those who regularly engaged in activates such as mowing the lawn, raking, gardening, swimming, biking, and hiking.
Another study done at the University of Georgia and published in the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy in 2008 studied the effects of regular walking.
A group of seniors was divided into two smaller groups: one group walked three times a week, while the other group received nutritional education instead. As you can surely guess, the group that took regular walks saw several noticeable improvements in health:
- The walkers’ aerobic capacity – the ability of the heart and lungs to properly oxygenate the muscles – was increase increased by 19% after only four months.
- The walkers also reduced their risk of developing a disability by 41%.
- The non-walkers’ saw a decrease in aerobic capacity by 9%.
Keep in mind that the participants in both of these studies were seniors!
The benefits of walking are clear, no matter your age. It’s a great way for seniors to stay active and healthy; and it’s also a great way to take a break from your day, clear your head, and get your blood flowing.