Walking has many benefits for seniors, but that comes as no surprise to Manu and Ann Malkani. The two have been married for 46 years, and walking has always been part of their life together. “We walk to maintain good health, feel energized, breathe fresh air and spend quiet time together to talk,” says Ann.
As cottage residents at The Glen at Hiland Meadows, the couple has found that retirement affords them even more time to do what they love, and the Queensbury senior living community provides plenty of sidewalks and safe terrain for their daily walks. Even inclement weather doesn’t stop the Malkanis, who take advantage of the treadmill in the fitness center or walk The Glen’s many residential hallways when it’s too cold or rainy.
“We’re just casual, recreational walkers,” admits Ann.
“But we supplement our walking routine with the wellness program,” adds Manu, referring to EmpowerU Wellness Program for seniors.
Walking is the Ideal Exercise for the Elderly
Ann and Manu Malkani are onto something, and science agrees. Walking is packed with health benefits for people over the age of 65, and it meets all the requirements for senior-friendly exercise: it can be performed at low or moderate intensity, it’s easy on joints, and it has a low risk of injury.
Walking is also very accessible. Just ask Harriet Rabinowitz. The Eddy Hawthorne Ridge resident uses a cane, and sometimes a walker, but that doesn’t stop her from strolling about the East Greenbush senior living community’s campus. Each morning she makes her way to the Bistro with the aid of her walker, outfitted with a special carrier for her two cups of coffee and the flavor-of-the-day infused water, and heads to the Fireside Lounge where she reads the newspaper and visits with friends.
Like the Malkanis, Harriet also participates in the EmpowerU Wellness Program, including Stretch & Flex and Gentle Yoga, but what she looks forward to the most is the nice weather. “So I can walk to the community garden to tend to my bush beans and tomatoes,” explains Harriet.
Benefits of Walking for Seniors
Adding at least 30 minutes of walking to your daily routine will not only help you avoid a sedentary lifestyle, but it can reduce your risk for chronic conditions and improve your overall health.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Walking gets your heart rate up, which leads to a lower risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, as well as stroke and diabetes. Even small amounts of walking each week have been shown to reduce these risks by 15% to 20%, and a daily walking routine can cut your risk of cardiac arrest in half.
Fights Weight Gain
Any form of exercise is beneficial for calorie burning and weight management, but walking gives seniors an extra boost. Taking a 15-minute walk after eating has been shown to reduce the spike in blood sugar that seniors often experience following a meal, and daily walks have also been found to reduce cravings for sugary foods.
Studies have proven that walking can help alleviate chronic pain associated with arthritis and other ailments. Walking for 20-30 minutes three times a week actually lubricates knee and hip joints, while strengthening the surrounding muscles. It also strengthens abdominal and back muscles, providing relief for lower back pain sufferers.
Promotes Mental Health
The endorphins released when walking provide a sense of well-being, reduce anxiety and uplift your mood. Walking also offers a way to connect with nature, which can be grounding, and makes it easy to engage with others. Whether by joining a walking group or keeping pace with a friend, you’ll be less inclined to feel socially isolated and depressed.
Slows Memory Loss
Some research suggests that frequent, brisk walks may even slow memory loss and improve physical abilities for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia. While walking won’t cure the disease, exercise is believed to be good for the brain, and several residents from Eddy Memory Care at Eddy Hawthorne Ridge are putting that theory to the test.
The East Greenbush memory community formed a walking group and, twice a week, residents walk at the local YMCA. One resident, Bill, commits to walking an impressive 8 laps every day, while his fellow walkers, Shirley and Yvonne, can even be seen jogging on occasion.
More Tips for a Physically Fit Lifestyle
Did you know that the American Heart Association has designated April as “Move More Month”? If you’re looking for more ways to stay healthy and active, check out Gentle Yoga & Meditation Benefits for Seniors and learn more about our Senior Living Communities Near Albany NY Offering Exercise.