Take a Walk, It's Good for You!
The fall season is a wonderful time of year to enjoy a nice walk outdoors. The trees are changing, the air is crisp and
Walking is a very easy way to maintain or improve your health for people of all ages. A workout does not have to be high impact or vigorous to have benefits. Even low levels of exercise, like walking for 60-75 minutes a week can make steady gains in improving one's health. You can walk at your own pace, which makes it great for elderly people with limited mobility or who may be recovering from a stroke or illness.
Walking is a "weight-bearing exercise", meaning you are carrying your own body weight while you walk. So a person who weighs 150 pounds is working a little harder than someone who weighs 100 pounds!
Health benefits of incorporating a walk into your routine include increased cardiovascular health as well as better pulmonary fitness. Walking can also reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
If you can walk briskly, with your heart rate elevated just a little bit, the benefits increase. However, for many older people, walking slowly is all they can manage. Even this lower level of activity is more beneficial than no activity at all.
A regular walking routine will also build endurance, which is key for recovering from a stroke, heart attack or other illness. If therapy to improve gait is part of a senior's care regimen, a therapist will help them re-learn proper walking techniques. Often a senior is fearful of a fall, and will not want to walk or venture too far from home. As part of the Villas Total Rehab therapy program, helping our patients build confidence in their own abilities is part of our comprehensive program to get them walking again.
Many seniors have trouble with their balance. Walking can help improve their balance and strengthen their bones and muscles. This increased strength will help them avoid a fall, too.
Walking is also beneficial in easing joint pain. It may seem counterintuitive to walk and move if you are in pain, but the reality is the motion and activity can significantly reduce arthritis-related pain. Walking lubricates the joints (specifically the hips and knees) and strengthens the muscles that support them.
Walking can also be a wonderful way to clear your mind and give your brain a few moments to reset. It can help your brain re-focus on a particular idea or problem.
During the colder and darker months, getting outdoors for a walk can help fight off the winter blues. The natural sunlight gives us much needed Vitamin D exposure (critical to the absorption and distribution of calcium in the body.)
Opportunities for social interaction are another benefit of walking. Finding a friend, neighbor or loved one to join in on a regularly scheduled walk is a good way to ensure you will keep up with the habit. Plus, spending time with other people who have similar interests or health goals is a good way for older people to stay connected with their peers.
Weight Loss Benefits
Did you know a nice brisk walk will curb your desire for something sweet? Some research indicates that a 15-minute walk will help crave the amount of chocolate a person craves! If a walk doesn't make that sweet tooth quiet down, opt for some heart-healthy dark chocolate.
Winter weather will be upon us soon enough. Take advantage of the optimal temperatures and radiant color displays of autumn to enjoy some time walking outdoors now. If you have any questions about physical therapy or occupational therapy to improve gait and walking at The Villas Senior Care Community, visit our website or call us today at (217) 744-2299.