As you get older, exercise and particularly walking becomes more difficult. You get tired more quickly and you can’t walk as far.
But you should still try to maintain a regular walking routine. Health experts say that walking is one of the best exercises for seniors.
It’s not only good for your body; it’s also good for your mental health.
Here are the biggest benefits of walking for seniors plus some tips on how to start and maintain a walking routine.
1. Weight management
Whether you are a spring chicken or in your senior years, walking will help you keep your weight in check.
It’s a simple balance of burning more calories than you are taking in.
For walking to be an effective form of weight management exercise, it essential that you also eat healthy.
Complementing exercise with a healthy diet is especially important for seniors. Their metabolism is lower meaning they don’t burn as many calories even with exercise.
Staying within a healthy weight range is not just about looking and feeling great; it’s also essential for your health. It lowers the risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes.
Staying fit is extremely important as you age. With your body already loosing muscle mass and your joints getting stiffer, you need to make sure you are not accelerating these degenerative processes.
Walking is a great way to stay fit. It keeps your leg and thigh muscles strong, which is important if you want to retain your mobility for as long as possible.
It also strengthens your bones, which tend to get weaker with age, and makes joints more flexible.
3. Pain management
If you already have arthritis, walking is one of the best things you can do.
It may seem counterintuitive because you don’t want to aggravate existing pain but researchers have found that regular walking and exercise in general eases arthritic pain.
The same applies if you have knee pain or back pain. Walking will help reduce the pain and can even help rebuild damaged joints and weak muscles.
4. Body balance and stability
To reduce the risk of falling, walk as often as you can. As your body gets used to the rhythm and your muscles build back up, you’ll find that your sense of balance is improving.
You can go up and down the stairs and walk on rough path without being afraid that you’ll fall.
5. Heart health
Walking is good for your heart.
A regular walking routine, even if it involves just 10-20 minutes of walking daily, has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and cardiac arrest.
Combine that with a healthy natural diet and you are likely to keep your heart beating strongly for longer.
6. Mental health
Walking makes for happier days.
Just the act of flexing your legs and being outdoors is therapeutic. It lowers stress and anxiety and makes you more relaxed.
You are also likely to meet friends and acquaintances along the way. These small interactions, meaningless as they might seem, are essential in keeping you feeling happy and warding off loneliness.
When you are happier and less stressed, your overall health goes up. There is less risk of high blood pressure and it’s even easier to maintain a healthy weight range.
How to get started (and keep going)
Starting a walking routine doesn’t require much planning or many resources. So don’t say you’ll start next week or next month.
Start today or tomorrow.
Just make sure you have a comfortable pair of sneakers or sports shoes and the right clothes for the weather. Then just go.
You don’t have to start with a gruelling walk. Even a 5-minute walk is enough. Just commit to doing it 3-5 times a week.
With each walk try to walk further. You should aim to eventually take 20-30 minute walks.
The walking pace should be moderate. Not too fast that you get quickly tired and struggle with breathing but fast enough that you can feel your heart beating fast.
And when it starts to get boring change your walking path, listen to some music or an audio book while walking or get a friend to accompany you on your walks.