Walking. It is one of my absolute favourite pastimes and more importantly exercise. I am passionate about coaxing others to walk too. And even more so with seniors because there are a zillion benefits to walking. Ok, maybe not a zillion but believe me there are a few. Walking is beneficial to mind, body and soul. So my mission for 2021? Get on your feet and out the door people!
Now as I have mentioned in previous posts, yes, I am a bit of a fitness nut. I am into working out 5 days a week and I love my resistance/weight training. But this post is more about urging people, especially the senior set, to think about the daily benefits of walking. Fitness, Fun at Any Age!
Walking is Free!
Here’s the thing. Walking is free. And you can do it anywhere. Outside, inside on a treadmill perhaps, or just around your living room. It can be done at any time of the year and as little as 30 minutes a day is all that is needed to start seeing and feeling the benefits. Let’s face it. Half an hour is not that long in the grand scheme of things. And I will wager that once you get up and moving, you eventually will want to go for longer.
If you are not used to walking for anything other than getting from point A to point B, you might be wondering what the fuss is about. Some of us don’t want to walk any further than we have too. Why walk if I can drive there in half the time? Or why park at the back of the parking lot when there is a perfectly good spot so close to the door? All valid points but, how does it make you feel to do the least effort possible? Think about that for a moment. What if you tried going just a little further or just a little longer?
Walking for a Healthier You
Ok let me get into the nitty gritty. Walking has quite a few health benefits for anyone, but especially those of us over 55. Heart health. Did you know that walking 30 minutes a day can help lower blood pressure? Just a simple walk around the neighbourhood every day or second day, can elevate that heart rate which in turn helps with the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even heart disease.
Walking has been known to lower blood sugar for some. Taking a walk about 15 minutes after eating can reduce the spike in blood sugar some may have and helps use that blood sugar more effectively by strengthening muscles.
Weight loss. Biggie for a lot of us. Walking reduces calories too. You don’t have to be a jogger or a runner. I hate running. Not that there’s anything wrong with those who wish too, just not my cup of tea. But going for regular walks can definitely help in keeping the weight down and off.
Feeling Stressed? Walk!
Now I am not going to go on into specifics about all the benefits walking provides. There are plenty of blogs and medical websites for that. I want to focus on how walking makes me feel. How it can make you feel. I know when I’m walking I’m helping my body but I am more about how it’s helping my mind and soul if you will.
Life can be stressful, especially these days. Stress can happen for many different reasons. And in some way or another, I feel it almost every day. Ah, but each day I know I will be going out for a walk. And I go pretty much every day. We have a rather large dog that must have her walk, and she is a winter dog. So that means even in the cold, sometimes frigid temperatures of where I live in Canada, we must head out. And as long as I am dressed for the weather hot or cold, I am always ready to go.
Stress Be Gone!
Almost from the minute I step outside I can feel the stress leaving me. Or at least most of it. We have a park that we frequent with lots of trees and space. In the summer there is plenty of shade if it is too hot and in the winter it is a wonderland. So pretty. It is very easy to take in the surroundings and breathe that fresh air. Stress be damned for a little while at least. But even if I just walk around the neighborhood I still feel a sense of enjoyment. And the reason for all this mood boosting? Endorphins.
“When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. ” WebMD
Cool huh? Have you ever experienced this? Most people don’t even realize this is happening to them. And that’s fine. But maybe next time you go out for a quick brisk walk or even a leisurely stroll just take a moment to see how you are feeling. Walking for mind, body and soul You might be surprised.