Looking to Tame the Onset of Aging? Consider Taking a Walk

December 17, 2014 Providence Health Team

Walking is good for youWe see lots of patients – middle-aged or approaching retirement – who admit to being couch potatoes. These folks are generally dissatisfied with their physical well-being. They often ask the same question: Is there a formula that will help me stay mentally and physically youthful even as I age? 

There’s no such thing as a potion for eternal youth, of course. But here’s a little secret: there’s no better exercise than walking to help keep you young. It’s simple, inexpensive and efficient. 

Have you been led to believe walking is for, well, sissies and old folks? It’s time to readjust your thinking. Walking comes closest to that miracle workout you’re looking for. 

Walking is Easy and Fun 

By briskly walking 30 minutes or more each day at least three times a week, you’ll definitely see results over time. It’s simple and it’s inexpensive. You don’t need to spend money on a gym membership, on foods for a fad diet or for new workout equipment. Just walk! 

You don’t need to do it alone, either. Invite a friend or family member to join you. Chatting as you walk is a great stress reliever, as well. 

Consider the benefits:

  • Walking – a weight-bearing exercise – increases bone mass. This is especially important for menopausal women who can lose bone density as they age.
  • Walking helps control – and can even prevent – heart disease by increasing your body’s protective HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. This strengthens your heart and helps control your weight.
  • Walking provides a natural high by releasing endorphins, your body’s natural painkiller. This feeling of contentment can last for several hours following a workout. You can extend the effect by walking 20 minutes in the morning, then repeating your workout in the evening.
  • Walking helps you sleep at night. Some patients suffering from insomnia have been able to sleep through the night for the first time in ages simply by starting a regular walking routine. It increases blood circulation and body temperature, and tires your muscles. After finishing, your body begins to cool down, which makes you sleepy.
  • Walking reduces constipation by stimulating your muscles and increasing blood circulation.

If you have Type 2 diabetes, brisk walking is an ideal exercise. It helps you control blood-sugar levels and lose weight over time. Those who walk regularly also absorb insulin more efficiently. 

Want to hear about even more benefits from walking? It helps prevent varicose veins by keeping the blood supply from pooling in the lower extremities. You’ve heard of cellulite angst? Walking improves your body tone, tightens muscles and boosts your lymph circulation, decreasing fat accumulation in your body tissues. 

Do you have sinusitis? Start walking. It provides relief by releasing adrenaline and constricting blood vessels. That, in turn, reduces sinus swelling. 

Before you head out for the first time, here are some tips:

  • Always warm up and stretch.
  • Check your heart rate before you start and after you’ve finished.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. 
  • Don’t push yourself. Pay attention to what your body tells you. Overdoing it the first time out is not only physically taxing, but will discourage you from sticking with it.
  • Increase your distance and speed gradually over time. 

You won’t see instant results and, yes, it will take time to see the benefits of your effort. But, as a way to ward off the effects of aging, walking offers a health benefit too good to pass up. 

It’s a workout for people of all ages to enjoy for a lifetime. If you are itching to begin a walking workout, your Providence primary care provider will be happy to get you started on the right foot.

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