As someone who is aging, you may look longingly at the people jogging past you on the street and wish you could lace up and go for a run. But did you know that according to a study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, you can get the same health benefits walking as you can by running? The calories burned by both walking and running were equally effective when it came to the health benefits to the cardiovascular system.
Knowing that, let’s put those shoes on and talk about what else walking can do for you.
Getting older comes with certain concerns, such as the worry about developing a disability or losing independence. A 2008 study from the University of Georgia found that seniors who walked on a regular basis actually reduced their risk of developing a physical disability by up to 41%.
The simple movement of the hips while walking is tremendously helpful in reducing inflammation and reducing arthritis pain, while lubricating both the hip and knee joints. What is interesting is that many people think that if you have arthritis pain that staying away from regular physical activity can help, but the opposite is true. The Arthritis Foundation states that walking can help reduce stiffness and inflammation. As a side benefit, walking can help you lose weight and keep your bones nice and strong. As always, check with your doctor to make sure you are able to walk safely.
The American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine currently recommend that able-bodied adults exercise for at least 30 minutes at least 5 days per week and do more intense aerobic exercise 3 days per week for 20 minutes. The cardiovascular benefits of walking include:
If you are simply going outside to check the mail, slipping on your comfortable beat up sneakers for a couple of minutes is certainly not a bad thing – but if you are going to walk for exercise it is important to make sure you are wearing the proper footwear.
Look for walking shoes designed for walking. The shoes should have a moisture-resistant insole, and the sole should be shock-absorbent. The shoe itself should be light and breathable, and it should fit comfortably if you are wearing a thick sock.
If you have not walked far in a long time, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to walk for exercise. Take a few minutes to stretch a little before and after your walk to warm up your muscles and to prevent stiffness or any cramping.
This is not a race, so walk slow and enjoy walking at a pace that is both safe and comfortable for you. If the weather is hot or cold or rainy out, consider walking in a mall. In fact, many malls now have seniors walking groups, so contact your local shopping mall and see if there is a program you can join.
If you take any medication or have any medical concerns, you should make sure to take your medication with you. If you are a diabetic, be sure to plan your meals around your walk and take a snack with you. Taking a bottle of water with you is also a good idea.
Let someone know where you are walking in case they need to get hold of you or in case you become ill.
Enjoy your walk! Walking is good for the mind, the body, and your spirit. You will feel good doing something for your body and enjoying the fresh air. Even if you’re only able to walk for 5-10 minutes, never give up doing what you love.
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This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).