“Walking is man’s best medicine,” Hippocrates said more than 2,400 years ago. Regular walking is even more beneficial for our health in today’s post-industrialized societies, which generally involve less physical effort in daily activities and a more sedentary lifestyle than in ancient times.
One big advantage of walking for older adults is that it’s a form of exercise most seniors can do and keep doing, according to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Walking is also enjoyable; and the only gear you need is a decent pair of comfortable shoes that fit well and provide proper support.
Here are some of the ways regular walking can improve and maintain your health:
1. Live longer. A sedentary person’s risk of dying prematurely from any cause fell by nearly 20% if that person began brisk walking for 30 minutes five times a week, according to a study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana.
2. Reduce disability risk. A Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy study found adults 60 and older who walked regularly lowered their risk of disability and increased their likelihood of maintaining independence by 41%.
3. Boost mood and mental health. Walking with a friend and in pleasant surroundings reduces depression and anxiety, and improves sleep, says the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).
4. Keep your heart healthy. According to two Harvard University studies, women who walked at least three hours a week reduced their risk of heart attack and cardiac death by 35%, and their stroke risk by 34%. Men who walked at least 30 minutes a day lowered their risk of coronary artery disease by 18%.
5. Strengthen your bones. Brisk walking increases bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis, says CCOHS.
6. Protect your memory. A 2016 University of British Columbia study found an hour of walking three times a week can improve cognitive abilities in seniors with vascular cognitive disorder, the second most common cause of dementia. Regular walking also lowers the risk of developing dementia by almost 40%, according to Annals of Internal Medicine.
7. Control your blood sugar. Older adults with type 2 diabetes who walked for 15 minutes after a meal had lower post-meal blood sugar levels than those who walked before dinner or didn’t walk at all, according to Diabetes Care.
Chartwell Retirement Residences offers a wide range of recreational and physical activities, including walking clubs, that can help improve your health and maintain your independence. Learn more about our active living program by clicking here.