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The best steps toward mental and physical health may just be … steps.

You’ve seen them in their clean white sneakers striding around the mall long before the stores open. You’ve seen them walking hand-in-hand through the neighborhood, or with their faithful companions at the dog park. Who are they? They’re seniors who’ve already discovered the amazing health benefits of walking.

For example, did you know that inactivity may actually be worse for your health than obesity? A 12-year study of more than a quarter million men and women (reported on recently in U.S. News & World Report) found that just a 20-minute brisk walk each day could lower the odds of early death. According to the authors of the study originally published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, exercise that burns between 90 and 100 calories a day, such as walking, could reduce the risk of early death by as much as 30 percent — even among obese individuals.

Further insight into those benefits comes from the National Institute for Fitness. A recent blog post stated that “… regular walking … helps maintain balance, muscle mass, and cardiovascular function that can otherwise deteriorate with age. In addition … walking combats age-related cognitive decline, which helps seniors maintain their memory and prevent dementia. Specifically, walking increases the size of the section of the brain related to memory.”

Here at Simpson Meadows, we’re always looking for ways to maintain and improve the health of the seniors who live here. If you’d like to know more about our community or our Memory Care programs, please call 484-364-3462.

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Getting started; Baby steps are OK!

These tips can help you reap the most benefit from your walks:

  1. If you’ve been inactive lately, talk with your doctor about easing into a walking program.
  2. Invest in a pair of comfortable walking/running shoes with plenty of support and cushioning.
  3. If you have joint issues, choose softer ground; a leafy trail may be less stressful than the terrazzo floors at the mall.
  4. Recruit a walking buddy — it’ll be more fun, and you’ll both be more likely to keep up on going … and going … and going.
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