The health benefits of walking regularly have been well-publicised recently through the media and it can especially be considered a valuable fitness tool for older people. Those aged 65 and above are thought to spend, on average, over 10 hours sitting or lying down every day, making this age group the most sedentary of all.
Physical exercise can help the older person to stay healthy and energetic, maintaining independence into old age. Regular walking, in particular, is an effective way to lower blood pressure, stabilise blood sugar, reduce body fat and improve bone density, significantly reducing the risk of age-related health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Walking is a valuable tool in improving the condition of the heart and lungs and works the muscles of the lower body where poor circulation may be likely to occur. As it is a weight-bearing exercise, it is likely to increase bone density whilst remaining a low impact exercise, placing less stress on the joints than more vigorous activities.
Aside from the physical benefits of incorporating walking into your lifestyle, there are plenty of psychological advantages of walking. The positive mental stimulus of discovering beautiful scenery or the soothing sounds of the sea provide considerable stress relief.
Combining walking with social interaction, or a mental challenge, such as with a Treasure Trail, promotes strong mental health as well as being a low-cost way to enjoy an afternoon, learning more about the local area as you go – some of the UK’s most fascinating landmarks can only be accessed on foot.
If you do very little activity at present it is advisable to make a number of small changes to help incorporate walking into your daily lifestyle. Possible ways to do this include:
- Leaving the car at home and taking a walk to the local shop. Take a comfy rucksack if you have a lot to carry, rather than relying on plastic bags.
- Offering to take the grandchildren to school every so often. As well as spending quality time with your little ones, encouraging them to walk to school will benefit their routine too.
- If you need to make a journey that is too far to walk in one go, try getting off the bus or train one or two stops early. It might reduce your fare too!
- Taking a longer walk once a week and trying to find a new route – you never know what you might find. Or take a friend and visit a nearby town or village, Treasure Trail in hand! Many are suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs too – just check the Trail description.
Test test 12th September 2012
Posted In: Did You Know