Walking is something you probably do — at least a little — every single day. What you may not know is walking is actually one of the best exercises for older adults. In fact, you may be surprised to learn the health benefits of walking for seniors span both physical and mental rewards, supporting whole-person wellness.
For many seniors, walking is an appealing way to get more physical activity because it doesn’t require any special equipment or learning special moves or skills. It’s also an activity that allows you to set your own pace so you can tailor your workout to your personal comfort level and abilities.
Health Benefits of Walking for Seniors
It may be hard to believe an everyday activity can make a big impact, but it’s true! Here are some of the ways taking regular walks is a major health benefit:
Supports a healthy heart: One of the greatest health benefits of walking for seniors is its impact on your cardiovascular health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting at least 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise each week to lower your risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Getting your blood pumping with a brisk walk also promotes a stronger circulatory system for better heart health.
Builds strength: When you walk, you’re not just building muscle tone; you’re also strengthening your lower body bones and joints, which rely on regular use to stay well lubricated for more fluid, less painful movement. Having strong bones means you have a lower risk of fractures, which is exactly what researchers found when they looked at physical activity levels among postmenopausal women and examined their risk of hip fracture.
Supports mobility: In addition to building strength, walking also allows you to focus on other core areas that promote safe and steady movement, like endurance, balance and flexibility. Endurance exercises, also known as aerobic exercises, get your heart rate up and make you breathe harder. Over time, you’ll find you’re able to move longer before you get winded. Improving your sense of balance is important to lowering your risk of falling and hurting yourself, and a daily routine of walking means you’re using your joints and muscles often to keep them supple and flexible.
Promotes better sleep: Getting adequate rest affects your overall well-being, since your sleeping hours are when your body rejuvenates itself. Numerous studies point to a correlation between physical activity and better sleep, and some researchers believe exercise triggers the release of melatonin and other natural sleep hormones.
Enhances mood: Exercise is a terrific way to lift your spirits since it signals your brain to release feel-good chemicals. Called endorphins, these chemicals not only help your body work through the discomfort or pain associated with exercise, they also flood your body with a sense of well-being. Exercise, including walking, also leads to greater dopamine and serotonin production, adding more uplifting hormones to your system naturally. What’s more, regulating your breathing while you walk requires a degree of mindfulness that can also be beneficial for your mental health.
Encourages socialization: Walking is a gentle enough exercise that you can easily enjoy it with a companion, and having someone along for the journey makes it that much more rewarding. Even if you walk alone, getting out and about makes it easier to interact with your neighbors. Keeping up your social ties as you age is important to your overall wellness because it helps prevent the physical and mental health risks associated with loneliness and isolation.
Wellness for Your Whole Body
Being physically fit is just one aspect of wellness, and that’s why independent living residents at Timber Ridge at Talus also engage in programs that exercise the mind, promote socializing and provide emotional support. The state-of-the-art fitness center features an array of senior-specific equipment, while personalized programs help interested residents reach their fitness goals through a personalized exercise program. Other wellness resources include our HealthyLife® Services, a philosophy that promotes whole-person wellness, and Timber Ridge University, a program that promotes lifelong learning.