Have you ever felt guilty for avoiding strenuous exercises such as aerobics or weight-lifting? The good news is that there is no reason for regret. If you are blessed to have use of your legs, even if in a limited capacity, you can accomplish just about any desired level of fitness by simply walking. No need for fancy gym equipment! You can walk your way to fitness, health, and a better life, all the while going at your own pace.
All of our retirement communities are located in residential settings with beautiful walking paths. See details about many of the benefits of walking below.
Promotes Heart Health
The American Heart Association (AHA) is a big proponent of walking because it has the lowest dropout rate of all the many types of physical activities. It would be hard to argue that there is a more important organ in your body than the heart, and you can improve heart health by simply walking. If you make a habit of walking for at least 30 minutes each day, research shows that you can enjoy the following benefits:
- Lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Improve blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
- Lower the risk of obesity.
- Improve mental well-being.
- Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent or type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer.
In all likelihood, you can find someone to walk with in your Discovery Village retirement community. But you can also find fellow walkers by visiting the AHA Walking Club website and either joining a club or starting one yourself.
When you practice walking on natural ground that is uneven, such as on hiking trails, your balance is improved. It has been shown that elderly patients who go on unsteady, slow, meandering walks are better equipped to avoid falling than people who walk indoors, such as on treadmills.
Boosts your Immune System
One marker of immune function is an abundance of killer t-cells. These important cells seek out and destroy infected cells that cause viruses. Research shows that walking 30 minutes daily increases killer t-cell count. Another study shows that the more you walk, the better various mucous membranes in your body are protected against invasion by disease-causing microorganisms.
You may have noticed that it is like a breath of fresh air to actually go walking and get some air as you stroll along on a walking path. There is science behind the stress relief you feel. Studies show that walking lowers the negative effects of cortisol, such as stress, cognitive decline, abdominal fat gain, and a compromised immune system.
Can Help Improve Mental Focus
While you are pumping your legs and realizing numerous health benefits, you can also increase mental focus, if you practice meditation while you walk. There is a lot to be said about meditation, but it is as simple of tuning out the chatter in your mind and focusing on the task at hand. Outdoor walks make it especially pleasant to meditate, since you can concentrate on the beauty of nature.
Improves Brain Function
Even without meditation, your brain benefits from the practice of walking. This may explain why the brilliant Aristotle was famous for walking as he taught his students. Research shows that walking outdoors:
- Improves memory function for seniors;
- Improves cognitive control and academic performance; and
- Boosts creativity in the healthy and young.
It was also shown in research that the further an elderly person walked in six minutes, the better he or she performed in logic and memory tests. It is literally suggested that there is reduced grey matter volume in certain parts of the brain among those who perform poorly on this walking test.
Beneficial for Arthritis Sufferers
Although exercise of all kinds tends to cause pain for some who suffer with arthritis, walking can be gentle on and beneficial to the body, particularly if walking with proper form. Some tips for walking with proper posture follow:
- Walk tall and straight without arching your back.
- Do not lean forward or backward because leaning strains the back muscles.
- Keep eyes forward. Look ahead about 20 feet, rather than looking down.
- Keep your chin up, which will help to reduce stress on the back and neck.
- Your shoulders should be relaxed and slightly back.
- Keep your stomach sucked in.
- Rotate your hips forward slightly and tuck in your behind, which prevent you for arching your back.
These are only a few of the many benefits you can realize physically and cognitively when you walk regularly. Didn’t even mention weight loss or giving your rear a great workout by activating your glutes as you’re walking. Don’t put off the benefits of walking. Choose a walking trail at any of our Discovery Village retirement communities today and walk your way to an improved life.
Discovery Village At Naples offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 239.238.1790.