Studies Show Walking Can Add Years to Your Life
It has been well known for many years that exercise, in general, can improve your health and extend your life. When this fact is mentioned, though, it tends to conjure up visions of marathon training, weight lifting, and other heavy-duty exercises.
Fortunately for those who are not currently in the position to carry out those activities, even walking can provide tremendous health benefits. In fact, studies show that walking can extend one’s natural life by several years.
While a brisk walk is preferred, any amount and pace of walking that is an increase in your regular activity can produce incredible results. And it is never too late to begin. No matter what stage of life you are in, keeping fit and healthy needs to be a top priority. And since walking can add years to your life, retirement is just one of many excellent times to get on your feet.
5 Ways Walking Can Add Years to Your Life
Walking can provide innumerable advantages. Below are just a few of the most common.
1. Works Out the Heart and Lungs
The condition of the heart and lungs have a direct impact on how long we live and the quality of life we lead. Any form of physical activity, including walking, makes your heart pump, strengthening it along the way. It also increases your oxygen intake and keeps your lungs working.
2. Reverses the Impact of Sitting
With so many people working from home, sitting for hours at a time is commonplace. Even those who work on their feet look forward to coming home and relaxing.
While both of these are entirely understandable, sitting can be deadly. It decreases circulation, putting you at greater risk of diabetes and heart disease, among other issues. Fortunately, even a short walk can help reverse these impacts.
3. Helps Lose and Maintain Weight
A walk at a quick pace can help you burn a fair bit of calories. Whether you want to drop a few pounds or just maintain a healthy weight, walking can help you meet that goal and prevent weight-related health troubles.
4. Repairs the Body
Physical activity, like walking, releases an increase of an enzyme called telomerase. This enzyme helps reverse cellular aging, which can help slow the aging process.
5. Improves the Mental and Emotional Condition
When looking to improve your physical health, it’s imperative that you do not neglect your mental and emotional health. Doing so can lead to physical issues, such as a weak immune system, heart disease, obesity, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, and more. Additionally, aging puts us at risk of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While they are not always avoidable, they can at times be prevented or put off when we take care of ourselves.
Walking provides a lot of benefits for mental and emotional health, including:
- Improved cognitive function
- Release of endorphins
- Decreases mental fatigue
- Strengthens the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain responsible for storing memories
- Increase in blood flow to the brain
Each of these benefits can contribute to health, in general, and potentially prevent unpleasant age-related issues.
Adding Fitness to Your Retirement Planning
You have probably been looking forward to retiring for quite some time. You have likely been planning and putting away money for years and dreaming of all that you want to do.
If you have not already, don’t forget to add health and fitness to your retirement planning. Doing so means you can potentially extend your retirement by several years, giving yourself even more time to enjoy everything you have planned.
A Word of Caution
Before jumping into any workout routine, it’s wise to check in with your doctor. While exercise is typically a good thing for all, some people have medical conditions or concerns that can dictate what type of activity you can do.
Additionally, if you have experienced any type of personal injury, there might be certain activities that aggravate the injury further. You may require the use of orthotics or need physical therapy services.
Speaking with your doctor first can help ensure you choose the best workout routine use, the right equipment, and make sure your Medicare insurance helps cover the cost of resources you need.
The more you walk, the bigger the benefits, but you do not have to start out walking several miles each day. Instead, start small and build your way up.
Experts suggest you get 150 minutes of physical activity per week. However, that amount is not always possible- especially not in the very beginning. The good news is, though, that even minimal walking can provide excellent results.
Try starting your walking journey by completing a short walk five times per week. There is no need to walk super fast- just walk more quickly than usual. Consider making a 15-minute playlist of some of your favorite songs. Try keeping pace with the music and let yourself enjoy your time.
Keep this short routine for a few days or longer, if necessary. When you are confident that you are having no side effects and are not hurting yourself in any way, you can increase your pace and the length of time you walk. Continue increasing until you reach your desired walking goals.
If you do experience any pain or issues, speak with your doctor before continuing. It’s crucial to ensure that your walking is improving your health, not causing it to deteriorate.
Activities to Incorporate Health and Fitness Into Your Life
If a regular walking workout does not work with your life or schedule, there are other solutions. Keeping fit and healthy does not always mean having a regimented workout routine. There are many enjoyable ways to get in your daily walking that does not involve a treadmill, a five-mile walk, or a stair-step machine. If you need a less organized routine or you are just looking for more natural ways to get your exercise in, try these activities instead.
Go the Distance
Do you always drive around for a close park at the grocery store? Try parking farther away instead. If you are new to walking, you do not have to start at the end of the parking lot. Start a few spaces away and continue to move down a little at a time until you are finally gaining some distance.
Take a Trip
You have always wanted to travel, right? It’s probably something you have been planning to do during your retirement for years. Now is time to book that adventure– and be sure you have your phone or digital camera charged.
Sightseeing is a great way to get in an enjoyable walk and to keep the heart pumping. Spending hours strolling around new places and snapping photos not only creates memories but also provides a lot of health benefits.
Get a Golf Membership
Golf is widely accepted as a retirement hobby, but it can provide much more than something to do on pretty days. Walking the course anywhere from three to five times each week gives your heart, lungs, and muscles a great workout. It’s the equivalent of swimming or jogging. And the best part is that golf membership participants rarely realize that they are working out, thanks to the enjoyable nature.
Outdoor living can provide a lot of health benefits, which include relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, boosting your immunity, and more. And the outdoors supply so many activities to enjoy that you can easily find ways to stay fit and healthy. Some of them include the following:
- Take a walk around the neighborhood. Enjoy the scenery, smell the flowers, and feel the sun on your skin. Just a few minutes of walking gives you the opportunity to appreciate your surroundings, say “Hi” to neighbors, improve your mood, and give you a quick workout.
- Go for a hike on nearby trails. A good hike is excellent for the heart, muscles, and lungs- and for your state of mind. It allows you time to commune with nature or a loved one.
- Grow a garden. Digging, weeding, and planting is considered a delightful form of exercise among many. And creating a beautiful garden that you can either eat from or simply walk around and admire gives a confidence boost, relieves stress, and can even treat some symptoms of dementia.
- Visit your local zoo, museum, or aquarium. There are always so many beautiful and exciting things to see at these places that it can be easy to lose track of time. Before you realize it, you have spent a half or entire day walking around.
- Walk to the store. Most neighborhoods have a store that is within walking distance. If you live in such an area and it is safe to do so, try walking instead of driving.
- Grab a pal. If you are not a fan of walking along or cannot motivate yourself, grab a friend or your spouse. Many people find it more enjoyable to walk with someone else and tend to stick with it more. Additionally, human nature often tells us to find excuses. With a walking partner, we are less likely to let ourselves off the hook.
Important Reminder: Be sure that you are protected any time you walk where cars are present. Wear some sort of reflective clothing and walk on the side facing traffic. Being in good health matters little if you are involved in an accident.
Proper Technique When Walking
When you walk, it’s essential that you do so correctly. Our bodies were made so that each part supports another. If one part is not aligned as it should be, it can negatively affect the entire body. Improper walking techniques can lead to many issues, such as:
- Injuries and falls
- Neck, hip, back, and leg pain
- Muscles aches and fatigue
- Lack of balance
- Increased wear and tear on ligaments, joints, and muscles
Unfortunately, any of the issues listed above can turn into even more significant problems, so it’s imperative that you walk correctly. The following tips can help ensure the best posture, which can help prevent further medical trouble.
- Always look forward, not down. Looking down can put extra strain on your back, neck, and shoulders. Also, keep your head and shoulders relaxed to prevent tension in those areas.
- Your feet should roll from heel to toe. Many people walk in such a way that their feet hit the ground flatly, leading to bone trauma. Be sure that you flex your ankle as you step so that your feet roll from back to front instead.
- Your arms should be allowed to swing freely with elbows slightly bent.
- Wear supportive shoes and orthotics, if necessary. Improper support can lead to problems with your bones, muscles, and tendons.
If you notice your shoes wearing out unevenly, it may be a sign of trouble. Talk to your doctor to determine what the issue might be and if you need any further foot support.
Your health and fitness should always be a priority. The earlier you get started- no matter how late it may seem- the more benefits you can experience. Don’t put it off another day. Speak to your healthcare provider for any information regarding your health, and then get started.
Remember that any walking you do today that you did not do yesterday is an improvement. Start with what you have- even if it’s no more than five minutes. Your body, mind, and soul will thank you.