There are many health benefits of walking and we take it for granted. The impact of walking for adults over 65 is enormous and it has remarkable effects. Regular walking of just 15 minutes a day reduces the rate of mortality by 22% and the rate is even higher with longer and more frequent activity levels.
Age is not an excuse to not do exercise. On contrary, regular physical activity has a bigger effect on people’s health than any possible medical treatment. But even so, less than half of older adults have the physical activity required to stay healthy.
A lot of people don’t see walking as an aerobic exercise so they ignore its benefits. “Aerobic” exercise is considered an exercise that stimulates heart and respiratory rates and helps the pumping of additional oxygen to muscles. Even a slow stroll has that effect but, the faster you walk, the more aerobic the activity gets.
When cardiovascular, respiratory, and circulatory operations are increased it means that nutrients go where they must in order to support the exercise. In this way the energy is used rather than stored, so your organs, muscles, and bones are strengthened. And this is great, because our bodies are meant for movement.
Without doubt, a sedentary lifestyle without adequate exercise only leads to illness. “Sedentary death syndrome” is a condition that is a major burden for public health, because it is the cause of multiple chronic diseases and millions of premature deaths every year.
A study conducted in 2016 found that if obese children increase their walking to 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, it can increase their lung capacity in just 6 weeks. Not only that, but fast walking combined with slow walk can improve your fitness level even more effectively than walking at a continual pace.
Walking outdoors has also has an enormous effect on the mental health. Natural surroundings are great at improving the mood, decreasing stress, and lowering feelings of depression. Sunshine helps us produce more of the essential vitamin D, which deficiency is becoming almost epidemic in the industrial world we live today.
Walking indoors has many similar effects, so walking on a treadmill facing a blank wall resulted in almost as many creative responses as being outside.
Like a Walk in the Park
When something hurts us, we try not to move or touch it. The funny thing is that regular walking improves the mobility and reduces the risk of injury. Any weight-bearing exercise, including walking, is very good for strengthening the bones and connective tissue and for increasing blood and nutrient supplies.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends walking for more, such as to improve the health of the joints, since without walking, they are deprived of the life-giving fluid, which can speed up deterioration.
The American Heart Association says that there is direct connection between walking and lower risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, and diabetes. Their recommendation is a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day, or at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week to achieve the positive effects of exercise.
The walking doesn’t have to be all at once, two 15-minute walks have the same effect as one 30-minute walk. In the beginning you can start slowly and over time you can work up your pace and endurance.
But also if you have trouble sleeping, you can take a walk.
According to The Sleep Foundation a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, can reduce the time need to fall asleep and increase the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia.
Walking studies from 7 countries that in average lasted for about 11 years came to the conclusion that regular walking decreases the incidence of cardiovascular events by 31% and decreases mortality risk by 32%. Also they found that walking 5.5 miles a week at 2mph can help you protect yourself from most serious diseases.
Not everyone can work out at a gym or run for miles but almost all of us can walk. With all the benefits that walking has on our overall health, it’s worth taking a little daily stroll. All you need to do is acquire a decent pair of shoes and find 15 minutes a day. You can’t say that you can’t make time for that!