The benefits of walking are undeniable at any age, but it is never so crucial as it is for seniors.
Once you have retired, it is very easy to slip into a sedentary life, but the health benefits of walking and staying active are clear, both physically and mentally. Studies have shown that the elderly can reduce their risk of illness and boost their independence by 41% by taking part in regular walking exercise.
Something as simple as walking can make all the difference to your health, with a study by the University of Georgia comparing two groups of over 60s, one of whom did regular walking sessions of up to 40 minutes at a time for four months. Over that time their aerobic ability increased by 19%, while the control group (who didn’t do the walking) saw theirs decline by 9%.
Here are some of the benefits of walking you can expect:
- Decreased risk of heart disease and heart attack.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Decreased risk of diabetes.
- Less risk of developing hypertension.
- Increased muscle strength, flexibility and balance.
It’s not just your physical fitness that benefits, of course. Other studies conducted have shown that walking can improve brain power, helping your memory, reaction time and reasoning. More than that, it can be a great way of preventing isolation, which is a boost for your mental health. All you need to do is slip on some comfy shoes and head outside!
If you’d like to add an extra social element to your work, and need the incentive of a weekly walking structure – you can easily find a walking group near you and meet some new people whilst exercising.
But how do you find these groups? It’s important to make sure you’re joining one that matches your current ability so you don’t find yourself hiking up a mountain on your first day, but there’s lots of information out there. Here are some groups to get you started:
The Heart Foundation’s walking programme is a good place to start looking, as they set up walking groups all over Australia and you can search by postcode to find one near you.
Founded by the City of Sydney, it’s primarily aimed at the over 55s (though anyone can join) and has the unusual twist of offering walks in the evening, helping you to get out at a time you might not normally and see the sights while getting fit.
It’s the oldest walking club in Australia, dating back to 1894, and offers walks for all ages and all levels of experience, so there’s no fear of doing something that’s more than you can handle
Western Walking Club:
They arrange walks in and around Perth and the surrounding countryside areas and rank them as easy, medium or difficult. In their words, ‘for fitness, friendship and connection with nature’.
Brisbane City Council:
They list a load of walking groups of all shapes and sizes on their website, and even have a calendar you can print out.
A great resource listing all the main walking groups in Adelaide and South Australia. You just need to find one that’s convenient and does the kind of walking you’re looking for.