Walking: Benefits to Your Mind and Body

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Walking: Benefits to Your Mind and Body

As senior citizens age, it becomes more difficult to find a way to exercise. But the exercise does not need to be strenuous. One of the best exercises for the elderly is walking. It’s an easy activity that can be done anytime.

Consequences of inactivity

There are health consequences for seniors who remain sedentary. Inactivity affects blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels and increases weight gain. Senior citizens who sit down for long periods of time also have an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

As we get older, the body naturally loses muscles mass. The age-related disorder is called sarcopenia. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), muscle mass decreases around the age of 50 and gets rapidly worse in the 60’s-70’s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stresses the importance of exercise for seniors. It found in 2014, 2 out of 3 adults who were 50 years of age and older, had at least one chronic disease. If they had a chronic disease, they were 30% more likely to be inactive.

Benefits of walking

  • Strengthen muscles
  • Keep weight balanced
  • Strengthen bones
  • Keep joints flexible
  • Improve balance
  • Increase energy

In older adults, walking along with other forms of excercise have been proved to improve connections between brain cells.  Researchers found the benefits increase if the pace of the walk is faster. The study found that participants 60-years old or more, had a 46 percent reduction in risk of death. Fast pace walkers had a a 53 percent risk reduction.  The professor who edited the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine told nypost.com: “A fast pace is generally five to seven kilometers (three to 4.3 miles) per hour, but it really depends on a walker’s fitness levels.”

Another study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that walking can be just as effective as running for people. If participants burned the same amount of calories (running or walking) their cardiovascular health was equal.

“The same health benefits for you and me doubles for seniors. It is important for them to remain active. Keep the muscles moving. Getting up and down out of the chair is very important to have that mobility and one way to keep the strength, you want to remain independent, is to be able to go outside and take a leisurely walk within reason, know your limits and do what you can,” said Andy Cruz, Vice president of Pride PHC.

 

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