Health Benefits of Walking for Older Adults

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It’s no secret that we could all use a little more exercise in our daily lives. But for seniors especially, walking every day has a plethora of benefits – both physical and mental – that can really enhance their quality of life.

It also provides a bonding opportunity with whoever you live with, or maybe a neighbor or friend. Having a companion makes you more likely to stick to the routine of walking every day. That way, you can reap the full benefits of this simple exercise.

Healthy living is as simple as a quick 10 minutes outside per day, just walking around your neighborhood or community.

Increased Muscle Strength

Obviously, one of the most prominent benefits of any kind of physical exercise is increased muscle strength. For older people especially, it can be difficult to maintain muscle mass as they age. This is a completely natural process, but you can offset the effects of this process a bit with regular exercise.

Walking in particular benefits the leg and abdominal muscles. This increased muscle strength puts less pressure on joints like the ankles, knees, and hips. It can even alleviate some back pain as well.

Better Circulation

Poor circulation can lead to a whole host of health issues. The most common are problems are high blood pressure, heart disease, swelling, and water retention. Walking daily can lower your blood pressure by about 11 points on average. It also encourages a better heart rate and healthy circulation in seniors’ bodies.

Optimal Joint Function

This goes for people of any age, but especially seniors. Walking is one of the best exercises for optimal joint function. Higher intensity cardio exercises like running or sprinting can be really harsh on joints. Walking, though, is a much more gentle, low impact exercise that’s actually very beneficial for joints.

The regular movement of knees, hips, ankles, and other joints is what keeps them limber and lubricated with synovial fluid. The cartilage in the joints needs regular movement in order to function properly. Why? Because it doesn’t get any of those fluids or nutrients without exercise. This is why conditions like arthritis become exaggerated as we get older and more sedentary.

Walking every day can reverse these effects.

Better Balance and Stability

Due to the increased muscle mass in the abdominals, you also get the added benefit of better balance and stability as you walk more regularly. These muscles are what account for your balance, and the stronger they are, the more stable you are. The stronger muscles also make you more stable in your everyday movements and may decrease your risk for a slip or fall.

Happiness Boost

Now for the mental health benefits of walking. Walking, or really any regular exercise releases hormones called endorphins, also known as the “happiness hormone.” These hormones make you feel good about yourself and your body. They also give you a confidence boost for hours to days after you’ve exercised.

This is particularly important to older people, who may be more prone to issues like depression as they age. For a quick boost of happiness, take a walk out in the sunshine.

Mental Clarity

Along those lines, a study was done by the University of California also found links between regular walking and exercise and a decrease in memory loss.

Women over the age of 65 who walked every day lowered their mental decline to 17% as opposed to the 25% of women who walked less frequently, if ever. Men over 70 were 50% less at risk of getting Alzheimer’s or dementia if they walked every day.

These results are pretty staggering. Especially since it’s such a simple and fun solution to avoid this scary part of getting older.

Better Sleep

Anyone who exercises regularly can tell you how much better their sleep patterns are because of it. It makes sense – if you exercise every day and expend more energy that way, you’ll be more tired by the time you go to bed.

However, make sure not to do any exercise right before, or within a few hours of, bedtime. This is because this energy boost can actually make it harder to fall asleep. Walking every day can get you back into a regular sleep routine, and give you a deeper sleep every night as well.

Potential Weight Loss

The increased metabolism and light calorie burn that comes with a quick walk can help you lose a little weight as well. Losing weight is beneficial for seniors who have increased pressure on their muscles and joints due to their weight. Weight loss is also helpful for any kind of blood pressure or heart problems due to their diets and weight.

Regular exercise, like a quick walk every day, can help you lose some of that weight, but true, consistent weight loss will only come with a healthy diet as well.

Summary and Sources

Overall, it is wildly beneficial for seniors to take a walk every day. It has all sorts of physical, mental, and social benefits that can’t be found anywhere else.

The muscle boost can prevent falls and slips, and help you with any sort of joint pain as well. The mental clarity that comes with walking can give you better sleep patterns. And it could also reduce your risk of depression, dementia, and other mental illnesses that are common in elderly people.

You may even lose some weight with this light everyday exercise. Although, the best way to go about that goal is changing up your diet.

It’s evident that walking every day is beneficial for any senior, no matter what their primary concern is. Getting outside and getting active is a good idea for people of any age. But the elderly especially should fo for a walk for the reasons outlined above.

What are some of your best tips for sticking to a daily exercise routine? What benefits have you seen out of this lifestyle change? Please share below!

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