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The Power of Adults Taking a Walk

senior couple walking their dog on the beach

Amazing Benefits for Seniors, Just by Walking

Most people know exercise plays a key role in wellness at every age. “How much exercise are you getting?” is a question doctors routinely ask during an annual physical. If you’re  trying to make fitness activities a priority as the summer begins, one senior-friendly workout to consider is taking regular walks.

Walking is a form of exercise you can do on your own, with a friend, or even with a four-legged canine companion. Residents of Atlantic Shores in Virginia Beach are fortunate to have 100 beautiful acres to stroll through. With winding roads and paved sidewalks along the shores of Lake Redwing, residents will gain many physical and mental health benefits by simply walking.

Here are a few ways walking benefits older adults, from increasing core strength to lowering stress.

Amazing Benefits Seniors Gain From Walking

  • Manages osteoarthritis pain
    Research indicates that as many as 70% of adults over the age of 65 have osteoarthritis. For some, the condition is so severe it interferes with daily life. While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when joints are painful and swollen, doctors say movement is one of the best ways to reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. Taking a walk in quality footwear is a low-impact form of exercise that seniors with osteoarthritis will likely find beneficial.
  • Reduces fall risk
    The risk of experiencing a fall increases as we grow older. Older adults who do take a fall are at higher risk for serious injury than younger people. Unfortunately, once a senior has a fall, they’re more likely to fall again.
    Walking has been shown to help prevent falls among older adults because it improves balance, core strength and coordination. It also increases flexibility in joints and strengthens overall muscle and bone mass. If a senior does fall, the benefits derived from walking often decrease the severity of injuries.
  • Decreases risk of heart disease
    As we age, many of us develop high cholesterol or high blood pressure, each of which raises the risk of heart disease. While genetics is partly involved, lifestyle can also play a role. A poor diet or sedentary lifestyle can contribute to both conditions.A daily routine that includes walking can be as effective as some medications in regulating blood pressure. It helps strengthen the heart, which typically makes it more efficient at pumping blood. That aids in lowering blood pressure.
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
    Seniors are more likely to experience spikes in blood sugar, especially after eating. Taking a walk after meals has been shown to reduce those spikes, allowing the body to use blood sugar efficiently.According to the American Diabetes Association, walking increases insulin sensitivity. That allows muscle cells to better use available insulin to take up glucose both during and after taking a walk. The result is often lower, more stable blood sugar.Remember, it’s important  to talk with your primary care physician about the best way to monitor blood sugar in relation to physical activity.
  • Boosts mood
    When you engage in physical activity, the happy hormones known as endorphins are released. Endorphins help lower the perception of pain while also boosting positive emotions. This is another of the many benefits of walking. Seniors who incorporate walking  into their daily routine are also less likely to live with depression, anxiety or chronic stress.If you walk in a location surrounded by natural beauty, like the Atlantic Shores’ campus, the boost to your spirit is even greater. The sights and sounds of nature nurture the mind and spirit.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weightAnother reality of aging is that metabolism slows down. That’s the body’s process of converting food into energy. Researchers say your metabolism begins to slow in your 30s, and by age 50, it will likely drop by  30%.. That’s obviously a fairly significant decrease to compensate for, and places older adults at increased risk for weight gain. You can help prevent weight gain by consuming a healthy diet in conjunction with getting regular exercise.
  • Builds immune systemWhat most people who exercise regularly have in common is strong immunity. They’re less likely to get colds or contract influenza. That’s because fitness activities like walking increase the number of white blood cells in your bloodstream.White blood cells, also referred to as leukocytes, are part of the body’s immune system. They help the body fight off infections and disease.

Starting a Walking Program

As is advised for all new forms of exercise, discuss getting started with your primary care physician, especially if you’ve been sedentary for any length of time. They might recommend you follow a program like the FIT Formula outlined by the Arthritis Foundation. It’s a good way to start slowly and increase intensity and duration as you build endurance.

Schedule a Visit to Atlantic Shores in Virginia Beach

Atlantic Shores is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) located on over 100 acres in Virginia Beach, Va. Residents and visitors are drawn to the community’s vibrant, natural lifestyle. This pet-friendly CCRC provides numerous opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, including lovely places to walk, ride bikes, bird-watch, kayak, and more. Schedule a personal visit to learn more!