It’s important to stay fit and healthy as we get older, everybody knows that. Walking is one of the easiest ways of doing so, and it comes with plenty of benefits for your health and well-being. Despite walking being quite accessible for most, there are still plenty of older people who are not doing any exercise.
Remember, the NHS recommend that people of the age of 65 aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. Unfortunately, people over this age spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or laying down.
Today’s post will outline a few of the benefits that you’ll reap if you start going for a walk. For other examples of sport and fitness activities that can help you stay active please see our in-depth guide.
Going for a walk has so many health benefits that it would be crazy not to work it into your daily schedule. First of all, walking gets the blood pumping without putting too much strain on your cardiovascular system, which means it can reduce the risk of any related conditions such as heart disease or stroke.
Going on a daily 30-minute walk is believed to reduce the risk of a stroke by up to 27%, as it helps to keep high blood pressure in check. Walking also helps to improve your heart’s performance, whilst also helping the circulation of blood around your body.
As walking is a form of exercise, it will also help you to lose weight. Obesity is a huge problem here in the UK, and although it may not look it like, walking can help you to burn off those calories and keep your weight down.
Going for a walk can also:
- Improve the flexibility and strength of your joints, muscles and bones. In turn, this helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Increase your good cholesterol levels.
- Boost your vitamin D levels if you’re walking outside in the sunshine.
- According to recent studies and reports, reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Walking is also good for those of you who have recently suffered from an injury or health problem. The activity is used to help rebuild your core strength and agility, without putting too much strain on the affected areas. Walking can also help manage the side effects of cancer treatment and even prevent certain cancers recurring.
Mental Health Benefits
We’re sure that you have heard the saying; “Go for a walk, you need to calm down,” at some point during your life. Well this is literally true as walking can help you to reduce stress and calm down if you’re having a rough day.
Like other physical activities, walking releases endorphins which help to improve your mood. You’re getting out in the fresh air and taking in the scenery around you, which can also help to relieve depression. It has been said that spending time in the outdoors, being in contact with the natural environment, can lead to a happy mood.
Is there anything more satisfying then going for a walk so that you’re in your own space, perhaps listening to your favourite music and looking at the landscape around you?
If you’re not into walking alone then don’t worry as this is an activity that you can do with friends, family, or as a group. There are walking groups across the country that are always looking for new members to join them.
Of course this means that this activity is also good in the fight against loneliness and isolation – a problem which is all too common among older people. By joining a group you know that you have places to be each week, places where you can meet new people who have a hobby in common with you.
This could lead to you having more friends and therefore other social events to attend each week – having a busy schedule is important for older people.
Fitting Walking into your Schedule
It’s quite easy to fit a walk into your daily schedule. Ways of fitting into your daily life include:
- Walking to the shop instead or driving or getting the bus.
- Walking to work instead of using your car.
- Using stairs, rather than escalators or lifts.
- Park towards the end of the car park so that you have further to walk.
If you’re still struggling for a reason to go for a walk, perhaps a dog could be the solution. Not only are dogs great at preventing loneliness among older people, but they also require plenty of walkies!!
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