Start walking in the new year and reap a lifetime of benefits

A new year is always an opportunity for a fresh start at improving your health. Did you resolve to lose weight this year? Lower your blood pressure? Be more physically active? One of the simplest and most affordable ways to be physically active can is also beneficial for seniors’ overall health. Whether it’s a few steps or a few miles, walking is a free activity that is a part of most adults’ normal daily activities. When used as a form of regular aerobic exercise, walking can greatly transform our bodies and our minds. Remember to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program to find out the appropriate amount of exercise to help you reach your goals.

  • Walking improves circulation. One of the benefits of putting your walking shoes to work is improved circulation that could help you avoid or lessen the effects of cardiovascular disease by strengthening the heart and lowering blood pressure. In fact, a 30-minute walk may reduce blood pressure as much as medication, according to a study published in the journal Hypertension. Walking also works and strengthens leg muscles, which helps them to use oxygen more efficiently.
  • Strengthens bones. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise and can make bones stronger by helping their growth. It can also stop bone mass loss for osteoporosis sufferers. Walking impacts balance and flexibility as well and makes falls or fractures less likely. 
  • Improves your mood. Like many forms of exercise, walking can alleviate symptoms of depression and release endorphins in the brain that increase positive feelings.
  • Walking can lead to weight loss. Ideally, to get the most benefit from an exercise like walking, you should walk for about 30 minutes each day for five days per week. Regularly getting our bodies moving expends excess calories. For example, a brisk walk for 30 minutes can burn about 200 calories. Those calories can add up over time and lead to pounds and inches lost.
  • Lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Walking helps to slow cognitive decline and memory loss. According to a study at the University of Pittsburgh, just walking a little over three-fourths of a mile a day instead of being sedentary can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Walking also is still effective at delaying Alzheimer’s even if a person has been diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Decline.
  • Helps with mobility. Older people who remain active and regularly exercise are able to remain independent longer. Walking helps promote toned leg muscles and stronger bones and tissues that help a person be able to walk and perform care, unassisted.
  • Helps lubricate joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the majority of joint cartilage “has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from the synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move. The impact that comes from movement or compression, such as walking, “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area.”
  • Walking lowers blood sugar. Moderate exercise not only uses excess calories, but it helps your muscles use up glucose (blood sugar). Over time, this effect lowers your blood sugar and helps the body use insulin more effectively. However, be careful about overdoing it. Strenuous exercise can temporarily raise blood sugar by making it produce more stress hormones.

If you have a health condition or injury that limits your mobility, rehabilitation can help you improve the quality of your or life or get on the path to recovery. Rehab First is a highly specialized program dedicated to comprehensive short-term rehabilitation with a focus on comfort, support and results. We offer an individualized approach to helping patients manage pain and achieve their goals. Our dedicated team of professionals works seamlessly to help patients maximize function in a comfortable, home-like environment. To learn more about Rehab First, call 877-707-2280 or go to