One Step at a Time: Surprising Benefits of Incorporating Walking into Your Daily Routine
We all know that the key to staying healthy is exercising, but did you know that walking can be just as beneficial as strenuous exercise? This is becoming one of the top ways to stay in shape and free the mind, but there are many other surprising health benefits that make going for a walk worth doing.
According to Scott Bemish, Director of Sales and Marketing at Lions Gate, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Voorhees, NJ, walking is one of the best ways to keep the body and mind busy. “Walking cannot only help you lose weight, but it can make your immune system stronger, improve heart health and lessen your stress overall,” Scott states. “By incorporating walking into your daily routine, you are actually encouraging the wellness of the mind, body and spirit.”
The Arthritis Foundation states that walking can lighten your mood, improve your breathing and can help you maintain your independence longer. If those reasons aren’t encouraging enough, below are more surprising health benefits of walking.
SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF WALKING
- Improve your sleep. In the article “8 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep” from Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School, it is explained that walking can help you sleep. By exercising, you boost the effect of sleep hormones, such as melatonin, and it can help you fall asleep easier than those who exercise less often. According to Dr. Karen Carlson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, exercising too close to bedtime can keep you up at night, so time your walks accordingly. She also states that going for a walk in the morning can help the natural circadian rhythm. This is also backed by a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, showing that women of ages 50 to 75 who go on one hour walks in the morning can relieve insomnia better than those who do not walk.
- Lessen your risk of bone and joint issues. In a study by the researchers at the University of California, it was found that those who walk have the healthiest knees. This is because walking can help to maintain cartilage and reduce the bone-thinning condition of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. (Read more about this here)
- Tame your sweet tooth. According to an article by Harvard Medical School, The University of Exeter found that walking for 15 minutes can reduce food cravings and the need to eat snacks that are high in sugar. Going on walks can help to reduce chocolate intake, not only because it curbs cravings, but because it can also help to lower your stress levels. The lower your stress, the less chocolate you eat. As a side effect, this can help you to lose weight.
- Slow your mental decline and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s. Walking four times a week can have positive effects on those with mild cognitive impairment, according to an article by the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. This article states that regular physical activity helps to increase brain health in those with the beginning stages of memory loss. A study from the University of Virginia Health System found on Arthritis.org states that “men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.” This is compared to those who walked less.
- Walk to live a longer life. Research from the University of Michigan Medical School and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System shows that those in their fifties and sixties are 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years because of exercising regularly. The research also shows that those with underlying health conditions are 45 percent less likely to die over the next eight years.
HOW TO KEEP UP THE HABIT
“If walking is not something you are motivated to make a routine out of, there are many ways to make it more fun and interesting,” Scott adds. “You could possibly walk with a friend or vary the scenery. If you find that you are having trouble getting started, take it one step at a time. If it helps to go on small walks throughout the day instead of all at once, do that. You can eventually work up to walking longer distances over time.” The Mayo Clinic offers some tips on how to stay motivated in your daily routine.
- Start with a simple goal. Choose specific times that you will go on walks throughout your normal day. Pick a time limit and once it becomes a habit to go that far, start going further for longer.
- Try to make walking enjoyable. If you prefer to walk alone and listen to music, make that your routine. If that idea bores you or you need to be held accountable, walk with friends or neighbors to keep your routine exciting and keep you motivated.
- Vary scenery. If you walk outside, choose different paths you can take. Make sure that they are well-lit and that someone knows where you are going to ensure safety. In case of weather issues, plan a route inside or walk around a mall that way you have a change in scenery and don’t miss your daily walk.
- Miss a day? Get back on track. If you miss a walk or two, remember how good you felt and remember the health benefits of walking. Don’t give up, get back on track.
“At Lions Gate, we encourage our residents to walk and be well,” says Scott. “Our walking paths, patio and enclosed courtyards allow residents to take advantage of these health benefits and make walking a routine. We want to be sure we are inspiring wellness and that we are giving them the tools to make wellness a way of life.” If you would like to learn more about Lions Gate’s approach to Inspiring Wellness, contact them today!
EXPERIENCE LIFESTYLE, CARE, COMMUNITY AND TRADITION AT LIONS GATE
Lions Gate, located in Voorhees, NJ, offers a continuum of lifestyle and care options rooted in Jewish traditions and values. Whether you are in need of Independent Living,Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing or Rehabilitation Services, Lions Gate has you covered.
Our mission at Lions Gate is to enrich the lives of those we serve through quality and compassionate care consistent with our heritage and values. We strive to provide programs and services that inspire well-being, as well as social, cultural and spiritual independence.
As a full-service community rich in wellness programs, meaningful experiences and educational opportunities from Lions Gate University, Lions Gate allows residents to connect with those who share their interests and cherished traditions. Our goal is to provide residents with an active, worry-free lifestyle filled with ways to connect with others, pursue their passions and be engaged in everyday life. While we focus on Jewish customs and traditions, we welcome people of all faiths to the Lions Gate family.
Through our affiliation with Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, we also offer three senior living communities for those with limited incomes.