Watching the decline of my parents as they moved into their late 80s emphasized to me the importance of maintaining mobility as we age. Once an older person is confined to a walker or lightweight transport chair, they begin to deteriorate rapidly. It’s astounding to see people, much younger than myself, scooting around Walmart on electric carts. Some have legitimate reasons like a disability but others appear to be in that situation voluntarily by letting themselves become morbidly obese. An uncomplicated and simple routine of walking daily for 30 minutes is not only a good way to maintain a healthy weight but will set you on a course for a healthier and happier life. This post was originally published on 1/12/14 and was updated on 12/12/19.
The more you move, the longer you’ll be able to
When a person is admitted to a rehab facility after an illness or surgery, one of the first things a physical therapist will do is try to get the patient to stand up and walk even if it’s just a couple of steps. The therapist then has the patient increase the number of steps until he or she is able to walk easily on their own or with the assistance of a cane.
Ease into it gradually
If you’ve been sedentary for a while, or still recovering from an injury, start slow. There’s no need to run a 5K right out of the gate. Walk for a few minutes every day and gradually increase the time to 30 minutes or more. Walking daily for at least 30 minutes will do wonders for your overall physical and mental health. I find it to be one of the best ways for me to relax especially if I’m under stress.
Take a two-mile walk every morning before breakfast.
~Harry S Truman
Keep moving and groovin’ by walking for these 9 reasons:
- Walking is easy on your bones – You can power walk, run or jump, but if you’re over 50, an easy daily walk will give you multiple benefits. There’s no need to over-exert yourself or cause an injury. It always helps to wear comfortable and supportive shoes to avoid putting a strain on your joints and bones. Have your feet checked out by a podiatrist to determine if you need orthotics, or if you have any other problems that will inhibit your ability to walk. Corns, bunions, ingrown toenails, etc can make walking uncomfortable but are simple to treat.
- It increases circulation – Being up on your feet and moving around allows your blood to flow freely and will decrease any pain you have caused by bad circulation. This is especially true for those who have peripheral artery disease or atherosclerosis.
- Your heart will stay pumping – The heart is a muscle that becomes stronger and healthier with regular exercise. When you commit to walking daily your heart will become more efficient, and it will bring more oxygen and nutrients to your organs.
- It regulates your blood sugar – Taking an evening walk after dinner (usually the largest meal of the day) has been shown to reduce blood sugar. You can also try taking a short walk after each meal. I can assure you that your pancreas will thank you for it. The pancreas manufactures digestive enzymes and hormones that turn your food into energy. It also regulates how your body uses blood sugar when you walk.
- Your back pain will feel better – In a 2016 study, it was determined that participating in strength training and walking exercises was beneficial to improve lumbar function in patients with chronic back pain.
- It helps reduce your stress and anxiety – Walking is meditative. If you feel nervous, go for a walk and enjoy the scenery. Take your dog along with you (if you have one) Pets need exercise too. You can also try forest bathing as a meditative practice by taking a walk in the woods.
- It will help you maintain a healthy weight – Although walking won’t make a dramatic change in your weight, it will burn calories and help you to maintain your current weight. Calorie reduction is what best helps you lose weight, but walking will make you feel better and healthier overall.
- Keeps you alive – The more you move, the longer you will be able to. So keep on moving!
If you’re a Baby Boomer or over 50, make sure to take a 30-minute daily walk or keep moving throughout the day for optimal health.
Are you walking daily? Please leave a comment.