Advantages of Walking for Seniors
Walking serves as a straightforward method to enhance your general health, offering numerous advantages for individuals regardless of their age or fitness level. It’s an accessible and cost-free activity that doesn’t demand vigorous effort to yield health improvements.
Just a 30-minute walk daily can significantly boost fitness and wellness. Moreover, walking is gentle on the body, doesn’t necessitate equipment, and allows you to set your own pace.
The following are the advantages of walking and how it positively influences your overall health and wellbeing.
Walking serves various fitness objectives, aiding in weight maintenance or weight loss based on individual goals. Shedding body weight reduces strain on joints.
Energy is essential for bodily movements, with daily calorie requirements varying among individuals, influenced by factors such as weight, gender, and activity levels. Interestingly, covering one mile on foot burns approximately 100 calories.
To elevate calorie burn during walks, consider walking uphill. This uphill walk not only heightens burning calories but also enhances activation of leg muscles, fortifying the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Boosts heart health
Engaging in walking enhances cardiovascular endurance and improves lung function. Studies indicate that dedicating 30 minutes each day to walking can potentially reduce the likelihood of coronary heart disease by 18-20%. Research also reveals that regular walking decreases the risk of cardiovascular incidents by 31% and lowers the risk of mortality by 32%.
If accomplishing a continuous 30-minute walk seems challenging, consider starting with smaller, attainable objectives. Breaking down the 30-minute duration into manageable portions is helpful. For instance, dividing it into three 10-minute walks—morning, lunchtime, and pre- or post-dinner—can make it more feasible. Alternatively, opt for three 10-minute sessions spread across five days if time is limited.
Reduce joint pain
Walking reinforces the muscles around your joints, resulting in reduced stress and pain on those areas during movement. Evidence suggests that walking can alleviate arthritis discomfort and enhance various associated symptoms. It aids in alleviating stiffness, combating fatigue, and decreasing joint pain. Additionally, walking enhances flexibility and promotes an active lifestyle.
It’s advisable to consult your general practitioner before initiating any new physical activities, especially if you have arthritis. Seeking guidance from an exercise physiologist or personal trainer can also be beneficial in structuring your routine effectively and maximising the benefits of this exercise.
Enhance balance and mobility
Walking enhances your coordination and stability, consequently lowering the likelihood of falls. Moreover, it aids in injury prevention and enhances control over your limbs.
Research indicates that, among older individuals, walking might offer greater efficacy in preventing falls compared to balance training.
Prior to starting any walking regimen, it’s crucial to consult your GP for guidance on a safe initiation and plan.
Improving circulation and increasing blood flow
Walking has been demonstrated to enhance sensation in extremities and lower the likelihood of coronary blockages, particularly among older adults. Brisk walking, walking uphill, or taking a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood aids in boosting blood circulation across the body and reducing blood pressure.
Before Taking a Walk
Most seniors can engage in some form of physical activity. However, it’s essential to consult your general practitioner (GP) before starting any exercise regimen. This step is particularly crucial if you’ve been inactive for a while or are considering a more demanding workout routine.
Regardless of whether your health issues seem minor, seeking advice from your doctor is important, especially if you have underlying conditions. They can assist in identifying suitable exercises that align with your health and fitness requirements or may suggest consulting an exercise specialist.
You might also qualify for a complimentary preventive health assessment, so enquire with your doctor about eligibility. Consider asking your doctor the following:
- Are there specific exercises I should avoid?
- Could any past illnesses, surgeries, or injuries affect my ability to exercise?
- How can I safely engage in physical activity if I have conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease?
- What’s the best way to gradually increase my exercise routine?
- How can I effectively manage ongoing health issues such as arthritis during exercise?
If your doctor expresses concerns about a particular exercise, explore alternative activities.
If you experience any symptoms upon commencing physical activity, promptly consult your doctor. These symptoms might include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Unintended weight loss
- Non-healing sores
- Pains in any part of your body
Cease exercising until you’ve consulted your doctor and determined the cause behind your symptoms.
What’s Necessary for Walking
To begin, ensure you have appropriate footwear for walking. Comfortable sneakers are a suitable choice for most individuals. If they are new shoes, it’s advisable to try them on beforehand to ensure a proper fit and comfort.
If you experience foot issues or seek guidance on the most suitable footwear, consult your doctor or a podiatrist. They can assist in initiating your walking routine and maintaining its consistency.
Using a cane or walker shouldn’t deter you. These aids can enhance your balance and reduce strain on your joints, facilitating ease while walking outdoors.
For additional support without a cane or walker, seek assistance from your general practitioner or a physiotherapist. Remember, proper adjustment and maintenance of walking aids are crucial. Consult a professional to guarantee the correct fit and address any other requirements you might have.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute official medical advice. Please consult your GP.