“Walking is man’s best medicine,” Hippocrates* said more than 2,400 years ago. Regular walking is even more beneficial for our health in today’s post-industrialized societies, which generally involve less physical effort in daily activities and a more sedentary lifestyle than in ancient times.
One big advantage of walking for older adults is that it’s a form of exercise most seniors can do and keep doing,* according to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Walking is also enjoyable; and the only gear you need is a decent pair of comfortable shoes that fit well and provide proper support.
Here are some of the ways regular walking can improve and maintain your health:
- Live longer. A sedentary person’s risk of dying prematurely from any cause fell by nearly 20%* if that person began brisk walking for 30 minutes five times a week, according to a study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana.
- Reduce disability risk. A Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy study found adults 60 and older who walked regularly lowered their risk of disability* and increased their likelihood of maintaining independence by 41%.
- Boost mood and mental health. Walking with a friend and in pleasant surroundings reduces depression and anxiety,* and improves sleep, says the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).
- Keep your heart healthy. According to two Harvard University studies, women who walked at least three hours a week reduced their risk of heart attack and cardiac death* by 35%, and their stroke risk by 34%. Men who walked at least 30 minutes a day lowered their risk of coronary artery disease by 18%.
- Strengthen your bones. Brisk walking increases bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis,* says CCOHS.
- Protect your memory. A 2016 University of British Columbia study found an hour of walking three times a week can improve cognitive abilities in seniors with vascular cognitive disorder,* the second most common cause of dementia. Regular walking also lowers the risk of developing dementia by almost 40%,* according to Annals of Internal Medicine.
- Control your blood sugar. Older adults with type 2 diabetes who walked for 15 minutes after a meal had lower post-meal blood sugar levels* than those who walked before dinner or didn’t walk at all, according to Diabetes Care.
Chartwell Retirement Residences offers a wide range of recreational and physical activities, including walking clubs, that can help improve your health and maintain your independence. Learn more about our active living program by clicking here.
*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:
- Harvard Medical School. “Walking: Your steps to health.” (2018), online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Walking-Your-steps-to-health
- Taylor, Paul. “Indoors or out, it’s time to get walking.” (2017), online: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health-advisor/indoors-or-out-its-time-to-get-walking/article36384843/
- Reynolds, Gretchen. “What’s the single best exercise?” (2011), online: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17exercise-t.html
- University of Georgia. “Regular Walking Nearly Halves Elderly Disability Risk.” (2008), online: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715152312.htm
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. “Walking – Still Our Best Medicine.” (2016), online: https://ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/walking.html
- Nair, Roshini. “Walking can reduce memory loss in seniors, study says.” (2016), online: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/walking-can-reduce-memory-loss-in-seniors-study-says-1.3822020
- Parker-Pope, Tara. “Walking May Lower Dementia Risk.” (2007), online: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/20/walking-may-lower-dementia-risk/
- American Diabetes Association. “Three 15-min Bouts of Moderate Postmeal Walking Significantly Improves 24-h Glycemic Control in Older People at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance.” (2013), online: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/03/dc13-0084