If you’re an older adult looking to improve your physical, mental and social health, walking may be the answer to improving all three aspects. Walking can help lower your stress levels, reduce your risk of experiencing dementia-related diseases, and increase opportunities for more social interactions. Discover five major reasons why walking is so beneficial for senior health, and be sure to speak to a medical professional before making changes to your exercise routine.
Prevents Cognitive Decline
According to medical experts like Holly Schiff, Psy.D, walking can increase blood flow to your brain which can improve your memory and provide protection against cognitive decline. A recent UK study found that adults who took about 10,000 steps a day, were able to lower their risk of experiencing dementia. Add walking to your exercise routine to boost your brain’s health.
Improves Sleep Quality
If you toss and turn at night or have trouble staying asleep, participating in a physical activity like walking, can help improve your sleep quality. Studies are still trying to discover exactly how physical activity helps you sleep better, but there are some theories emerging.
Current research shows after you exercise, your body releases different signals indicating it’s tired and needs to rest. Walking at least 1-2 hours before bedtime can activate these signals, helping you physically relax when your body temperature naturally decreases after exercising. The decline in your body’s temperature then contributes to helping you feel sleepy, making it easier to fall into a restful, night time snooze.
Boosts Mood and Reduces Stress
Want to improve your mental well-being or feel less stressed? Walking can help. When you stroll around the block or walk to your neighborhood coffee shop, your body releases endorphins also known as hormones that reduce pain levels and boosts positive, euphoric feelings. Endorphins are activated during physical activity so walking isn’t the only way to feel good, but it is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to do so.
At least 50% of adults, “60 years and older are at risk of social isolation,” according to BMC Public Health. And the chances of experiencing loneliness may increase as one ages. Fortunately, one way to combat social isolation is to walk around your neighborhood. As you explore your block, you might run into your neighbors or fellow walking enthusiasts who will be glad to see a friendly face. Consider starting a community walking group. It’s an easy way to exercise and increase your social circle.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Last but not least, one of the major benefits of walking is the improvement of your cardiovascular health. Studies show that “14.2% of adults aged 45 years and older reported having coronary heart disease (CHD), or a stroke, or both,” which is why improving one’s heart health should be top priority for seniors.
Walking can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels which reduces your chances of experiencing a major cardiovascular disease. How long, how fast and how often you should walk will vary for each individual. The CDC does recommend “at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking,” for adults 65 years and older. Talk to your doctor about how much you should walk on a daily basis.
How Friendship Village South Hills Can Get You Moving
Simply putting one foot in front of the other has so many benefits for your mind and body. However, holistic wellness is important, too. At Friendship Village of South Hills, we help you prioritize your physical and mental health. In our community, you can customize your wellness plan to address your specific health needs, enjoy premium services and amenities and meet like-minded individuals who are also focused on leisure and improved wellness. Contact us to schedule a tour, or fill out the form below to learn more.