Do you remember Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 signature hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'”? Perhaps, it needs to be modified to “These Legs Are Made for Walking!
According to a study conducted by Dr. Thomas Gill, a Yale University geriatrician, simple physical activity – mostly walking – helped high-risk seniors stay mobile after disability-inducing ailments even if, at 70 and beyond. Thus, prescribing exercise may be just as important as prescribing medications.
The study enrolled more than 1,600 adults between the ages of 70 and 89 considered at high risk for disability because they were sedentary and had various chronic health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. Older adults often shift back and forth between independence and conditions that can be disabling at least temporarily – a broken bone, an operation or a hospitalization from illness that requires time and rehab if they’re to get back on their feet.
The study showed that many sedentary seniors could start walking safely, no gym membership needed – just a safe place such as a sidewalk or shopping mall. Those who were physically active were less likely to be injured in a fall.
No one expects a sedentary senior to suddenly speed-walk. The goal is to build up gradually to meet federal health guidelines that say even older adults should get 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise.
The routine of regular walks need to be initiated as soon as you can. The regiment of walking may reduce your visits to your doctor. The walking exercise is likely to help you lose weight and de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of many chronic diseases.
There is much evidence of the benefits of walking. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh revealed that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight even if they didn’t change any other lifestyle habits.
Another American study found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight (an average nine pounds less) than couch potatoes as they got older. Researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).
Simply put going for regular walks is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health.