Benefits of Walking for Seniors

It is the perfect time of year to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take a walk. There are several benefits of walking for seniors. Walks help you to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones and muscles, improve moods, improve balance, strengthen the heart, and boost the immune system. In fact, even a 30 minute walk a day, five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by 19%. In addition, taking regular walks keeps you healthy and can improve your mood and sleep pattern.

Keeps you Healthy

Most people know that getting exercise, such as taking walks, is good for the body, but many people are unaware of how many different areas of the body that walks can affect. There are several benefits of walking. Walks reduce the risk for high cholesterol and blood pressure. They also put you less at-risk for developing diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress.

Walks make the heart happy because they increase your heart rate. The heart is a very strong muscle and in order to keep muscles strong, they need to be put to work. When you heart is pumping, it pumps blood and oxygen to your muscles. This result will help keep your heart strong and healthy. It is important to stay active!

Improves Mood

Having a bad day? Even if you are not in the mood, you should try to take a walk. Walks can have a positive impact on your mood. When you take a walk, your heart rate increases. When your heart rate increases, your brain releases “feel-good chemicals” called endorphins throughout the body that improve your mood. One common chemical that is released is called serotonin. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. Not only does serotonin increase your happiness level, but it can help with sleeping, eating, and digesting.

When you take a walk, not only is your mood boosted, but anxiety and depression decrease. One walk a day for 30 minutes can decrease your risk of depression by 26%. Your body wants to get up and move, so if you make it happier then it makes you happier!

Improves Sleep

Walks can allow you to sleep better. The harder the body works during the day, the more tired it is going to be at the end of the day. If you sit around all day long with minimal movement or exercise, the body is not as tired at bedtime, which could result in difficulty sleeping. Even if you walk for 30 minutes a day, your sleep patterns could be positively impacted. During the 30 minutes that you take a walk, your body is working much harder than if you were to just sit for that time. Walks allow you to relax because exercise triggers an increase in body temperature. After you exercise, the drop in temperature promotes falling asleep.

Studies have shown that even just a 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you to fall asleep faster. Though walks can improve sleep, it may not be the best idea to take one immediately before bed. Since the heart rate increases with a walk, it can take an hour or two before it is able to slow down. It is important to engage in relaxing activities before bed to get the heart rate down, though a walk in the day time can still improve your sleep.

Set a Goal

An adult should strive to take between 6,500-8,500 steps a day. That may seem like a lot, but you probably take more steps a day than you think. Even the steps to get the mail, put the trash out, or walk from the bedroom to the bathroom add up quickly. It can be helpful to set a daily step goal.

There are several step-tracking devices that you can use such as a Fitbit or an Apple Watch that not only track steps, but can count calories and even check your heart rate. Most smartphones even have free apps that track how many steps you take each day. One popular free step-tracking app is called “Pacer.” It is important to track how many steps you take in a day so that you can be sure that you are on track. There are several benefits of walking for seniors that you should take advantage of. Step-tracking devices make sure that you strive to achieve your daily step goal.