Use it or lose it. This is the word from doctors recently when talking to senior citizens about their bodies. The good news is, seniors needn’t think they have to sign up for 10K races, high-impact aerobics, or heavy weight training. Instead, walking benefits them by keeping them physically strong and agile. Adding a simple 35-minute walk a day is all it takes.
According to Dr. Michael Pratt, the acting chief for the Physical Activity and Heath Branch in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, walking is a tremendously good activity for senior citizens. It’s cheap, simple, and almost anybody can do it. Walking has a number of health benefits for everyone. For seniors especially, it helps them maintain mobility and their independence.
Five benefits of walking:
1) Improves circulation: Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
2) Strengthens your bones: It can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York.
3) It supports your joints: Since our joints don’t get any blood supply, they rely on synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move, which carries oxygen to them. Without walking, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.
4) It lightens the mood: Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body – this is just one of the emotional benefits of exercise.
5) It helps you do more, longer. Since walking helps circulation, keeps the bones strong and healthy, and lightens your mood, the body stays healthy longer, increasing the ability to be more active as we age.
With that being said, when is a good time to start a walking program? Now! Perhaps they can’t begin with 30 minutes, however, they can start somewhere. Walking benefits the body in so many ways, so go out and enjoy your walk. Even when the weather isn’t the greatest, lacing up your shoes and heading to a mall is a perfect way to keep moving.