A growing body of research points to staying active as the most impactful way to ensure you Age Well. There’s no need to start training for a marathon—your physical activity can be as simple as going for a regular walk.
“Walking is good for your brain and your body,” says Todd Lutz, Get Fit coordinator at Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those 55 and better in Tucson. “Much of this is due to the fact that any exercise can offer multiple benefits, especially when done regularly.”
Proven Health Benefits
In fact, multiple studies show that a mere 20-minute daily walk has powerful health benefits, including reducing the risks of dementia, heart disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers; as well as improving blood pressure and elevating mood.
Keep in mind that walking 20 minutes per day should be your starting point; the longer you walk (and/or the faster your pace), the better it can be for your health. Studies have shown that:
- Walking is good for your brain, as well as your body. When you begin to exercise, your brain recognizes exercise as stress, and begins to release chemicals in order to protect your body from that “stress.” Stress harms your brain and your heart—so any break from it can be a big help!
- Walking makes you happy. The act of walking triggers the release of endorphins in your brain; these chemicals minimize physical discomfort and cause a natural “feel good” rush.
- Walking can also help reduce risk of stroke. Research shows that moderate exercise such as brisk walking helps offset the increased risk of stroke with postmenopausal women.
Walk with Others
You can see that the simple act of walking can do a world of good—but the above benefits come from walking regularly, if not every day. To help transform walking into a daily habit, walk with a partner or a group will help you stay motivated and improve accountability.
“Find a friend or neighbor who shares your interest in getting healthy, and get moving,” suggests Lutz. “Residents here at Splendido started their own walking club, which goes out three times a week.” If you can’t find a partner willing to walk every day, set up a revolving schedule to keep you moving all week long.
Take the First Step
Walking is the perfect exercise: it can be done at your own pace, outdoors or inside on a treadmill–or on a circuit at the gym or shopping mall. The important thing to remember is, it’s never too late to begin exercising. “As with any exercise plan, talking to your doctor is a great place to start. But almost anyone can walk, and nearly everyone should!” says Lutz.
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