With sunny spring weather quickly approaching, people all over the country are encouraged to head outdoors and start walking. In addition to enjoying the sun and the fresh air, taking a walk is a great way to keep healthy. You probably already know that walking is an easy and simple way to improve and maintain overall fitness. What you may not know is that there are a host of important and specific health benefits you can attain, all of which are only a stroll away.
Managing your blood sugar levels is an important part of keeping ahead of diabetes as you get older, especially if you don’t lead a particularly active lifestyle. Fortunately, it can be as easy as adding a walk to your after-dinner routine. A recent study from the George Washington University School of Public Health revealed that walking for 15 minutes after dinner contributed to controlling blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours.
“It’s (sic) helps your insulin work better. The benefit is almost instantaneous,” said Dr. Bob Sallis of the Everybody Walk! campaign, which is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
What’s more, MedicineNet.com states that walking off excess body weight can more permanently reduce your risk of diabetes by up to 58 percent.
Better bones and back
Osteoporosis is a major concern for seniors, especially women. The International Osteoporosis Foundation reported that 20 percent of men and 33 percent of women over 50 are affected. Fortunately, walking can be an important preventative measure you can easily take. According to MedicineNet.com, walking one mile every day can lead to higher whole-body bone density in women. Walking can also contribute specifically to lower bone density loss in legs, which goes a long way in preventing painful and costly osteoporotic fractures.
Walking can also improve lower back pain. A recent study from Tel Aviv University reported that walking 20 to 40 minutes a day, three times a week, was just as effective at managing lower back pain as specialized therapeutic exercises. The main difference? Those who went the walking route also had overall better levels of fitness.
It should come as no surprise that an aerobic exercise like walking is a great way to keep your heart healthy. What may surprise you is just how effective walking can be at maintaining cardiovascular health. Men and women who walked two miles a day or three hours a week reduced their risk of heart attack by 35 percent, and overall mortality rate by half.
Even more surprising is that walking regularly provides the same cardiovascular benefits of running a comparable distance, so walk your way to both peace of mind and a better heart.
Not all the benefits of walking are purely physical. It’s also a great way to take care of your brain as you get older, having been linked to better cognitive function, especially in women. Not only can walking help sharpen your memory, it can also help you feel better. Women who consistently walked during menopause experienced less symptoms of anxiety and depression. In fact, both men and women who walk for half an hour a few times a week can reduce symptoms of depression by up to 47 percent, MedicineNet.com reported.
“We’ve always assumed the biggest effect of walking was on the heart, but the most powerful effect turns out to be on the brain,” Dr. Sallis told SeniorSite.com.
So this spring make sure you get out and take a walk in the park. Both your body and mind will thank you for it.
Source: Julia Little http://www.sunriseseniorliving.com/blog/april-2014/walk-your-way-to-better-overall-health.aspx