The Benefits of Walking for Seniors

Walking Your Way to Better Health

Walking is often dubbed the ‘world’s most accessible exercise,’ and for good reason. It’s a free, simple, and enjoyable activity that has countless benefits, especially for active seniors. As the golden years shine bright, it’s more important than ever to keep up with a routine that ensures good health, strength, and vitality. Moreover, the only equipment needed are comfortable clothes and good walking shoes.

Let’s delve into the myriad of benefits that walking brings to everyone, along with some exciting walking programs tailored for seniors.

The Many Benefits of Walking

Among others, the long-term benefits include:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Walking can significantly boost your heart health. It increases heart rate, improves blood circulation, and can help in reducing risks related to heart diseases.
  • Mental Health: Beyond the physical benefits, walking is a therapeutic exercise. It can reduce anxiety, depression, and mood swings. The rhythmic nature of walking has a calming effect on the mind.
  • Joint Mobility: As we age, maintaining joint mobility is crucial. Walking aids in strengthening the muscles around the joints and reduces stiffness, particularly in the knees and hips.
  • Bone Density and Walking: Walking is a weight-bearing exercise. This means it can help in slowing down bone density loss and reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Walking Programs for Seniors

A few suggested ways to walk your way to better health include:

  • Brisk Walking: Faster than casual strolls, brisk walking gets the heart rate up and can be as effective as light aerobic exercise. It’s perfect for those looking for something more challenging than a regular walk.A rule of thumb to gauge if you’re engaged in brisk walking: Your walking pace allows you to carry on a conversation, but you would have difficulty singing!
  • Interval Walking: This involves alternating between a regular-paced walk and brisk walking for a few feet or yards. It’s great for cardiovascular health and can be tailored to individual stamina levels.
  • Nordic Walking: Originating in Finland, Nordic walking involves the use of specially designed Nordic walking poles similar to ski poles that can be readily purchased online. Nordic walking benefits include an upper-body workout in addition to the lower body, providing balance and support, making it especially beneficial for seniors.

Senior Walking Routines

Here are a few ways to make daily walks part of your routine.

  • Morning Ritual: Start the day with a brisk walk. Enjoy the calm and quiet, soak in the morning sun, and set a positive tone for the day.
  • Post-Meal Walks: Short walks after meals can aid digestion and keep you active.
  • Join or Organize a Walking Club: Many communities offer walking groups for seniors. This not only ensures regular walks but also adds a social element, making the experience more enjoyable.

Steps to Vitality and Senior Health – The 10,000-Step Question

A common belief is that we should aim for 10,000 steps daily. However, this number isn’t a one-size-fits-all, has no real scientific backing, and it actually originated with the advertising campaign of a Japanese company trying to market its pedometer which had a Japanese name that translates into English as “10,000 steps.”

In reality, recent studies have shown that you begin to reap health benefits with as few as 2,000 daily steps, with the benefits increasing substantially at the 4,000-step level and topping off at about 7,500 steps.

So, for active seniors, between 2,000 and 7,500 steps per day can be highly beneficial. The goal should be consistency and listening to one’s body. Instead of fixating on a number, focus on regular, enjoyable walks, out in the fresh air whenever possible.

The 150-minute Alternative

If you’re not interested in using a pedometer or app on your phone or watch to track the number of daily steps, you can simply follow the advice of the CDC which recommends 150 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise a week. That can be accomplished by walking 30 minutes daily five days a week.

The various forms of walking we’ve suggested, along with alternatives such as cycling, swimming, or racket sports can all help you achieve the CDC-recommended goal.

If you have not been physically active and are starting from absolute ground zero, studies show that your overall health can benefit from 90 minutes per week, and from that starting point you can gradually increase your exercise program to reach the 150-minute goal.

Whatever metric you use to track your daily movement – steps or minutes or some combination of the two – walking is a golden ticket to maintaining and enhancing your health and vitality one step at a time.

Broadview – Senior Living at Its Best

Broadview at Purchase College is the only University Based Retirement Community (UBRC) in New York. Additionally, it is the first in the nation to be located on a college campus. This provides our residents with unique opportunities, learning experiences and other amenities offered to the students, faculty, and administrators.

We invite you to contact us to explore this unique senior living community and reserve your residence at Broadview at Purchase College.