Senior Health Spotlight: The Benefits of Walking

senior walking benefits

Walking is a great way for seniors to get exercise, work on mobility, and socialize. Seniors who regularly incorporate walking into their weekly routines report physical, mental, and emotional benefits. The low-impact exercise improves heart health, lowers blood sugar, reduces pain, promotes social engagement, and boosts mental health. And walking helps you increase balance, endurance, flexibility, and strength—which decreases your risk of falling.

If you’re interested in starting to walk for exercise, talk to your doctor. Below, you can read about how to safely start a walking routine. A supportive pair of shoes does wonders, and a medical alert system adds an element of safety and comfort to a daily walking routine. Grab an On-the-Go medical alert system and hit the sidewalk!

Why is walking a good exercise for seniors?

A sedentary lifestyle compounds existing health conditions and decreases quality of life. Walking is a low-intensity exercise that you can easily make part of your everyday activity.

Walking is not only simple and low impact, but it's also incredibly effective. The physical and mental benefits of walking are enough to get you tying up your sneakers and planning a walking route. Integrating 30 minutes of walking into your daily routine can improve your life greatly.

On a simpler note, walking gets you outside. Fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mood. Daily walks can be a chance to connect with others and regain some energy. Although the world has opened up more since the beginning of the pandemic, walks are still a wonderful way to get to know your community. A walk around the neighborhood can introduce you to new friends and neighbors. If you join a walking group, you can meet friends with similar interests who will keep you motivated.

Walking is also a low-cost activity. Once you have the supportive sneakers you need, you’re ready to go! That said, you may want to look into a button alarm pendant or bracelet for added safety and security before heading out to the pavement. Alert1 makes medical alert systems affordable

What are the physical benefits of walking?

Seniors do not necessarily need intense daily exercise. In some cases, intense daily exercise might even pose a greater health risk. However, walking is a healthy, moderate alternative. When you walk, you’re doing your body a huge favor. 

In terms of your physical health, walking has the following benefits:

  • Reduces blood sugar[1]. Taking a 15-minute walk after a meal can decrease blood sugar. 
  • Reduces blood pressure. Three 10-minute walks have the same positive effects on your blood pressure as one 30-minute walk.
  • Boosts heart health. Walking increases your heart rate and blood circulation and strengthens your heart.
  • Alleviates pain[2]. Low-impact exercise, like walking, can reduce pain from conditions like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. 
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight[3]. Though walking isn’t the first fat-burning exercise that comes to mind, a regular walking routine can prevent increased weight gain.
  • Increases energy levels[4]. A daily walk could replace your morning cup of coffee, says one report out of the University of Georgia.
  • Reduces risk of diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer[5]. A regular walking routine could prevent you from contracting a series of life-altering, or fatal, illnesses. 
  • Strengthens bones to prevent osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. A gradual, and doctor-approved, increase in your walking intensity could strengthen your bones and provide a myriad of other health benefits. 
  • Improves coordination, balance, and flexibility. These are foundational elements of your bodily health. When you walk, you improve all the skills you need to reduce your risk of falling. 

Falling poses a serious threat to seniors’ health and wellbeing. Walking is a low-impact way to decrease your risk of falling and enjoy some of the mental and emotional benefits this fulfilling form of exercise has to offer.  

What are the mental and emotional benefits of walking?

The mental and emotional benefits of walking are just as important as the physical benefits. In fact, your mental health has real-world impacts on your physical health. It’s important that your daily routine includes some mental and emotional care. Walks are also low intensity, which invites a certain sense of peacefulness. 

In terms of your mental and emotional health, walking has the following benefits:

  • Reduces cognitive decline[6]
  • Improves sleep 
  • Keeps you social
  • Reduces feelings of depression or anxiety[7]
  • Increases confidence
  • Provides an opportunity for reflection

Stress reduction is an important part of mental health. Studies show that seniors who fall usually fear having another fall, which can cause an unhealthy amount of everyday stress. Falling once actually doubles your chances of falling again. Anyone can enjoy the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of a regular walking routine. An Alert1 personal emergency button alarm can be a helpful tool for seniors who have a fear of falling. 

How can seniors add walking to a daily routine?

Healthy exercise does not need to be rigorous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity per day for seniors over the age of 65. Thirty minutes might be out-of-reach for you right now, but, if it’s ok with your doctor, you can start with 10 minutes and gradually work up to 30 minutes. Here are some helpful tips for starting your walking routine: 

  • Talk to your doctor about what level of exercise fits your abilities and needs
  • Use walking shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support
  • Use a cane or walker if your doctor deems this addition necessary

Preparing for a walk

  • Dress for the weather 
  • Bring a water bottle on the walk or hydrate before you leave
  • Pick a familiar route that is smooth and doesn’t have obstacles 
  • Take safety precautions (consider using a medical alert system or PERS pendant)
  • Begin with a 10-minute walk and take it slow

Increasing intensity

  • Increase time and pace as you get more comfortable with your new walking routine
  • If you experience pain or discomfort during the walk, take a break from the routine and talk to your doctor before continuing 

If you need some motivation to walk, get creative. Go for an art walk around your neighborhood, meet up with friends or family, or listen to music while you stroll. Start taking nature photos so you can document changes in your local environment throughout the year. Anything that motivates you to get out the door and moving move is worth trying.

Make sure to consult your doctor every step of the way. Your ability to walk, and the kind of walking you can do, depends on your medical condition. 

Other types of moderate exercise

If walking doesn’t interest you, or maybe you already walk regularly and hope to add a new exercise to your regimen, there are other moderate exercises that you can try.

Other types of moderate exercise for seniors include: 

  • Stretching. Stretching can increase balance, mobility, flexibility, and strength. It can also reduce stress. 
  • Swimming. This low-impact exercise can improve use of arthritic joints and help strengthen muscles. Exercising in the water is usually easier on muscles and joints. 
  • Tai chi. This gentle movement practice helps seniors gain more control, flexibility, balance, and stability. Tai chi can also reduce pain from back problems, knee osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. 

Why should seniors who like to walk consider a medical alert?

Walking is a fulfilling and fun way to get the exercise your body needs. The many benefits of walking as a senior build a compelling case for adding it to your daily routine. When you start walking, you will wear appropriately supportive shoes and, if necessary, use a cane or walker as your walking tools. However, falls, safety concerns, or other emergencies can happen. That’s where an Alert1 medical alert pendant or bracelet comes in handy. 

With the press of a button, you will connect to a trained agent who can quickly get you whatever type of assistance you require, 24/7/365. Some Alert1 medical alert systems even come with the option of fall detection technology. This means that the medical alert system will be able to sense if you fall and connect you with a trained agent without you even needing to press your button.

Whether you choose to walk early in the morning or after dinner, Alert1 is here to support you. Certified and trained agents work at our 24/7 Command Centers. Our personal emergency response systems are waterproof, so you can even wear them in the shower.

A medical alert bracelet for the elderly might be a new piece of technology for you. Alert1 understands and will never charge you for “false alarms” or multiple button pushes. Walking is a wonderful addition to your healthy senior lifestyle and wellness plan, and Alert1 wants to make sure you feel supported and ready for this new routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Rice, Sandy Calhoun. 2018, Oct. 7. A Short Walk After Meals is All it Takes to Lower Blood Sugar. Healthline.com. A Short Walk After Meals is All it Takes to Lower Blood Sugar.

[2] Neighmond, Patti. 2019, Sept. 23. Exercising to Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help. NPR.org. Exercising to Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help.

[3] Van De Walle, Gavin. 2020, May 25. Does Walking 1 Hour Every Day Aid Weight Loss? Healthline.com. Does Walking 1 Hour Every Day Aid Weight Loss?

[4] Randolph, Derek D., O’Connor, Patrick J. 2017, May 15. Stair walking is more energizing than low dose caffeine in sleep deprived young women. Psychology & Behavior. Stair walking is more energizing than low dose caffeine in sleep deprived young women.

[5] Warburton, Darren E.R., et al. 2006, Mar. 14. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence.

[6] Winchester, J., et al. 2012, Sep. 5. Walking stabilizes cognitive functioning in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) across one year. Archive of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine.  Walking stabilizes cognitive functioning in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) across one year.

[7] Neumann, Janice. 2015, Jan. 30. Regular Walking Can Help Ease Depression. Scientific American. Regular Walking Can Help Ease Depression.