The Benefits of Walking for Seniors
Consistent exercise – including walking, can help seniors to stave off a host of health problems
Exercise takes many forms. From weight lifting to cardio, stretching to balance-training, there are so many ways to keep the body in tip-top shape it is surprising how few of us actually exercise on a daily basis. And for seniors who are entering their later years, it can become increasingly difficult to exercise without fear of injury. Arthritis, cognitive conditions, and balance issues can each play havoc when it comes time to work out. Thankfully, walking is one exercise option that suits the exercise needs of virtually all individuals – from children to the elderly. The following are some of the most important senior health benefits associated with walking:
Reduced risk of heart disease: By walking at a moderate pace, the heart is forced to pump more quickly – this can strengthen the heart, reduce blood pressure, and minimize the overall chance of developing heart disease.
Better balance: With falls being the leading cause of injury among those aged 65 and older in America, any exercise program that can help to improve balance and flexibility is a sure-fire way to reduce the likelihood of a dangerous or potentially deadly fall.
Happier individuals: Walking, like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, can trigger the release of endorphins in the body and create a more stable, balanced mental state. This can help to minimize the likelihood of a senior feeling depressed or overwhelmed. And, seniors that are happier and more content with their situation have proven to live longer and create greater social bonds than those who feel depressed.
Weight loss: While this benefit seems like an obvious side effect of a consistent walking regimen, there are a host of other related benefits that come along with losing weight – beyond clothes fitting better. Less weight often results in a better sense of balance, reducing the likelihood of a fall or serious injury. Lower body weight can also help to stave off diabetes, high blood pressure, and various cancers. Finally, seniors will simply feel good about themselves when they maintain a healthy, fit physique.
Independence: While some seniors may always need some sort of healthcare support – based on an existing health condition or physical impairment, those who are more physically fit will have a greater chance at remaining independent for as long as possible. Walking is a terrific way to reinforce good exercise habits, and it is a low-impact method for maintaining a healthy body weight.
Virtually all seniors will benefit from a tailored exercise plan that includes moderate walking and other low-impact routines. Swimming is another great option – but it does require access to a pool and, in some cases, someone to provide lifeguarding services for the senior. Simply partner with your healthcare professional or home care coordinator today, and you’ll find that creating a personalized exercise plan – including regularly scheduled walks, will lift your spirits, improve your health, and create the physical and mental changes that will keep you feeling your best.