Walking benefits people of all ages, but it’s especially beneficial to those in their golden years. Going on frequent walks promotes physical health, and it also enhances psychological health. Here are five reasons your senior loved one should walk often.
1. Control Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can raise the risk for heart attacks, renal disease, and strokes. While blood pressure medications such as diuretics, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers are effective in treating high blood pressure, they can cause serious side effects. Walking is a natural way to keep blood pressure levels low.
There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care. Centennial, CO, families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
As people age, they often become more sedentary, which can lead to weight gain. Walking is an easy way to burn calories so seniors can better manage their weight. Even without changing the diet or cutting calories, walking may help seniors shed extra pounds with minimal effort. Walking can also suppress the appetite, which may reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks. When seniors gain weight, it often accumulates around the abdominal area. In certain people, fat can develop deep inside the abdominal cavity and collect around the internal organs. This type of fat is known as visceral fat and is thought to be a risk factor in heart disease. Walking often gets rid of excess visceral fat, lowering the risk for cardiovascular issues.
3. Prevent Muscle Loss
When people don’t walk enough, muscle loss and atrophy can develop in the legs, which can cause weakness, pain, and loss of strength. However, when your loved one walks often, muscle strength can return. Not walking can also lead to poor circulation in the legs, and when coupled with muscle loss or weakness, can lead to significant pain, limited mobility, and in some cases, disability. If your loved one has leg pain as a result of muscle loss or poor circulation, encourage him or her to walk slowly and only in brief intervals at first. Then, he or she can gradually increase the speed for longer periods.
4. Enhance Mood
When people engage in any form of exercise, chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin are released into the bloodstream. Otherwise known as “feel-good” chemicals, serotonin and endorphins can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and promote feelings of wellbeing.
Walking with a companion can further boost a senior’s mood. For families living in Centennial respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home.
5. Get Vitamin D
Many elderly people are deficient in vitamin D. While people don’t actually get vitamin D from the sun, the sun’s rays help the body manufacture its own vitamin D. Optimal amounts of vitamin D may keep your loved one’s bones strong so a fracture is less likely to occur if he or she falls. While the benefits of vitamin D are many, avoid giving your loved one vitamin D supplements unless recommended by his or her physician.
Some older adults may need help getting the physical activity they need each day. Centennial elder care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. To schedule a free in-home consultation, call Home Care Assistance at (303) 957-3100.