Regular physical activity can improve the quality of sleep, reduce symptoms of depression, and reduce cognitive decline among older adults.
“Besides the anti-aging benefits of exercise, doing regular activity [walking] helps with reducing arthritic pain, and improves lung and brain function. Staying fit and flexible also makes it easier to prevent falls and improve overall quality of life,” said Chuck Newcomb, Registered Dietician for Sourcewise.
A 1996 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found a 58% reduction in falls of older women who began a home-based exercise program in a controlled trial.
Walking is an aerobic exercise with many benefits: it’s free; can be done almost anywhere (local malls, neighborhoods, parks); and allows you to move at your own pace. While physical activity may seem like a daunting task to some as we age, walking is a manageable option for many older adults.
Walking improves circulation which helps to prevent or manage chronic conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking will strengthen your heart.
Regular walks can become a social outlet when including family and friends. The American Heart Association stated, “Finding a companion(s) to exercise with will add to your enjoyment, create accountability, and encourage you to make the activity a part of a routine schedule.” Get outdoors in May with the Open Space Authority’s series of outdoor hikes specifically designed for older adults. Visit http://openspaceauthority.org/visitors/events for more details to sign-up including dates and times of each event.
If exercising regularly is difficult, start exercising for short periods of time at low intensity by walking every other day. Once your body has adapted to the physical activity, if you are comfortable, gradually increase the time and distance.
Speak with your primary care physician before starting any exercise program.