Walking every day can help prevent or remedy many ailments. It is the perfect, low impact exercise for everyone, especially those who are elderly. If you fall into the category of “senior,” or “elderly,” walking is a great way to get your exercise in without putting too much stress on your bones and joints. The best part about it is how simple it is. You do not need any special equipment unless you use a walking cane, and you only need to walk for 30 minutes a day to experience the benefits. Once you have read the following benefits, you will not want to stop walking.
1. Lowered Risk of Chronic Disease
Walking can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels, which reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects a large number of senior citizens and can be very detrimental to your quality of life. Walking also lowers blood pressure by up to 11 points. Regular walkers have up to a 40% reduction in the chance of suffering a stroke. Walking or other moderate physical activity can also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 30%. These are all well-studied numbers. Walking has been documented for a long time, and the health benefits are noticed quickly after your walking regimen has begun.
2. Better Digestion
While many people rely on coffee to keep them “regular,” walkers do not have this problem. Going for a walk in the morning in place of having coffee improves gastrointestinal motility, which is the movement of the digestive system and the way its contents move. In fact, walking is so effective at increasing gastric motility that it is required of abdominal surgery patients almost right after their operation. This increased gastric motility is a result of using core muscles during walking, which encourages the gastrointestinal system to move. This is especially important as you get older which is when your digestive system begins to have greater difficulty with motility.
3. Slimmer Waist
One of the most obvious benefits of regular walking is that your waistline will begin to slim down. While you may not notice any changes when you step on the scale, you will certainly notice that your pants fit looser. This is because walking helps regulate blood sugar. This improved regulation reduces fat around the midsection. Walking also helps prevent the loss of muscle, which is especially important as we age. Muscle is important in regulating metabolism. It is possible to lose up to, or even more, than 2% body fat in a month by walking a mile per day.
4. Healthy Legs
The older you get, the more it seems that varicose veins keep popping up. Regular walking can help prevent these veins from occurring. Walking strengthens the muscles, veins, and valves in your lower legs. This part of your leg pumps blood back to the heart, which is essential in preventing circulatory problems and varicose veins. If you already have varicose veins, walking will go a long way in reducing any restlessness and swelling that they may be causing you. Even if you are genetically predisposed to varicose veins, daily walks can help keep them at bay for as long as possible.
5. Mental Health
Physical health, without mental health, is nothing. Walking is an effective way of improving your mood and relaxing after a long day. If you walk regularly, your nervous system actually changes in such an extreme way that you will notice you are much slower to get angry or hostile. Walking with others can compound the mental health benefits of walking. When you walk with a good friend or your partner, you can feel more connected to them, which improves everyone’s individual mental health. If you walk outdoors, as most people do, you also get the benefit of exposure to natural sunlight, which can help relieve the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. While it may seem strange to walk outside during the cold days of winter, it can be beneficial. Just stay away from any ice and snow.
6. Increased Creativity
After retirement, you may feel bored or lethargic. Walking is a great way to fix this, as it has been shown to stimulate creativity. After taking a walk, you may be more likely to write, draw, paint, play music, or take part in any other creative activity that you enjoy.
7. Reaching for the Stars
Establishing a regular walking routine can help you establish other healthy routines. The more routines you implement successfully, the more likely you are to implement additional routines. Since walking is such an easy, low impact, routine, it is a great starting place for establishing overall health.
While the recommended walking routine should include daily, half an hour walks, starting with just a few days a week, or even just ten minutes a day can help you work towards all of these benefits.