Why Walking Is Great Exercise For Older Adults

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As older adults seek to improve their fitness, strength, balance and general well-being, one of the best ways to do so is also one of the simplest: walking.

In this blog we’ll discuss just a few of the many benefits a regular walking regimen can have for older adults.

Of course, we acknowledge that walking is not always easy, or possible, for many older adults based on mobility. However, for those that are comfortable and able to do so, walking can have a wide variety of benefits.

In this entry, let us… walk you (sorry) through just a few of the ways that can be the case for older adults.

Head To Toe Benefits

We’ll delve a bit deeper into a couple of topics related to walking in a moment, but it’s worth listing a variety of outcomes that can greatly improve day-to-day health that can come from regular walking. Among them can include:

  • Building muscle
  • Helping maintain a healthy weight
  • Helping improve balance to reduce falls
  • Reducing blood pressure (more on heart health below)
  • Strengthening bones and joints
  • Keeping joints flexible
  • Strengthening the immune system

Of course, those benefits are achieved when you walk regularly. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, including cardiovascular and strength work. If you’re not a walker, start by consulting a doctor to determine a fitness plan that works for you, building endurance and stamina as you go.

Hoof It For Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most prevalent health concerns facing older adults – it’s the number one cause of death in those 65 and older, and with the country’s population aging, researchers estimate that between 2025 and 2060, cases of heart failure will rise by 33%, heart attacks by 30% and strokes by 34%.

However, the American Heart Association’s research shows that a regular walking regimen can greatly reduce the chances of heart disease. Consider the following, as noted in the article:

  • “A study of people ages 70 and older found walking an additional 500 steps per day, or an additional quarter mile of walking, was associated with a 14% lower risk of heart disease, stroke or heart failure.
  • Only about 3.5% of participants who took around 4,500 steps per day had a cardiovascular event, compared to 11.5% of those who took less than 2,000 steps per day, over the 3.5-year follow-up period.”

There’s plenty more data and info in the article, which we encourage you to read, but the results are clear: walking is vital for heart health.

Great For The Brain Too

For all the physical benefits that come with walking, there are cognitive and emotional values that are just as vital.

Walking regularly has been linked to a lowered risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, walking can also improve mood, energy levels, sleep and anxiety – making it just as important for mental health as it is for physical health.

Walking can also be a great way to remain social as we age – having regular meetups with friends or loved ones for walks can be a fulfilling way to build and maintain important relationships as we age.

Low Barrier To Entry

Right now, pickleball is the hottest fitness trend in the country, and it can be a great fitness option for many seniors. However, if you want to take up pickleball you need the right equipment, you need a location where games are available, you need to learn the rules, etc.

While people should always strive to learn new things, there’s something to be said for walking, where you might just need a sturdy pair of shoes, then be ready to go.

As long as you’re able to walk, there’s very little stopping you from doing it. It’s easy to make walking a habit on a daily basis if you’re so inclined.

Be Safe Out There

While walking has all sorts of positive benefits, there are a few caveats to keep in mind.

See a doctor or a specialist about advice on the best shoes to wear for your foot type. Different people have different needs and the right shoes can prevent injuries and pain.

Furthermore, if you’re going to walk outside early in the morning, later in the evening or during adverse weather, wear a reflective or light-up vest so drivers can better see you. Also, walk on sidewalks instead of directly on roadways.

Lastly, soreness or stiffness can be common with walking, but if you develop acute pain or discomfort, see your physician.

Walk On In To Prestige!

At Prestige, fitness is a regular part of the lifestyle for residents, including walking. Many communities have walking groups among the residents, and your walking habit can be whatever you choose to make it – from heading out in the wider community, to getting started by going up and down the hallways.

Visit the Prestige location nearest you to speak to our team about the fitness options there!