Staying healthy and active as a senior is as simple as enjoying the occasional walkabout. It is well known that walking is good for burning off a few calories and keeping trim. However, several studies now show that the benefits of walking go much further, including warding off common health conditions like heart disease and diabetes and even improving mental health.
According to Dr. Bob Sallis, spokesperson for the public health campaign Everybody Walk! “Walking is the single best exercise we can recommend on a large scale.” He believes that more doctors should prescribe walking for their patients just like they would a medication. In addition to promoting general fitness and helping control weight, walking offers numerous additional health benefits, including:
• Blood Sugar Control —A short walk after dinner at a moderate pace burns sugar in the blood stream which can help control post-meal blood sugar spikes and even lower 24-hour blood glucose levels. Walking also strengthens muscles so that blood sugar can be metabolized more efficiently.
• Cardiovascular Benefits—Long-term studies show that walking helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels like same as running, the effects just take slightly longer to begin.
• Back Pain Relief —Walking strengthens abdominal and back muscles, which may help reduce back pain symptoms.
• Mental Health Benefits— Walking, like any type of exercise, releases endorphins into the blood stream that naturally make us happy. According to Dr. Sallis, walking may help relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression as effectively as some prescription medications!
It is important for seniors to check with their health care provider before starting any exercise regimen, including walking. It is also important to take precautions to prevent injury and to get the maximum benefits from walking. The following tips can help seniors get the most out of their walking regimen, without getting injured along the way.
• Stretch. Be sure to warm up and cool down by stretching, before and after walking. Stretching increases blood flow to the extremities and helps prevent lactic acid from building up in the muscles. Lactic acid is the chemical that makes muscles feel stiff and sore after exercise. The potassium in bananas helps the body dispose of lactic acid, which prevents and alleviates soreness!
•Wear appropriate tennis shoes. Like all walkers, seniors should wear athletic shoes with enough cushion in the soles to absorb shock and provide necessary arch support. This is particularly true for seniors who need to avoid placing any unnecessary stress on their joints and bones.
• Avoid hard and unforgiving surfaces. The feet lose some of their natural padding and bones begin to lose density with age, making them less absorbent to shock. Constant impact on hard surfaces can lead to pain and discomfort in the ankles and knees, and even more bone deterioration.
• Be mindful of the weather. The cold numbs the extremities, making it harder to detect injuries. Because of the cardiovascular stress it causes, extreme heat can be equally as detrimental, particularly for seniors. Avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures.
• Check Yourself For Injuries. It is important for seniors with diabetes to check their feet often for any signs of injury or circulation complications. Even minor injuries and lead to serious infections for individuals with diabetes.
Walking is a great way for seniors to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle! Following the tips above will help seniors avoid the risks associated with regular exercise.
Staying active is fun and easy at Towne Club Windermere. For more information concerning our healthcare programs and the services offered at Towne Club Windermere, please contact us today.