As my beautiful, friendly, and fun-loving yellow lab, Abby, has gotten older and our walks have gotten shorter and nonexistent on some days, I’ve realized how much I’ve enjoyed those end-caps to my days over the last almost 12 years. Walking is good for us (pets and humans alike) for many reasons. Here is one for every year I’ve been walking with Abby.
1. Improved circulation —Walking increases your heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens your heart; making it easier for your blood to pump throughout your body.
2. Stronger bones — Walking can slow the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, reducing risks for things like hip fractures. It is a weightbearing exercise that builds bone density.
3. Longer life — research shows that people who are consistently physically active (and walking is an easy way to move your body) live longer than their non-walking peers.
4. Happier mood — not only does moving your body release mood lifting endorphins, but it can give you a chance to reflect on the day, chat with a confidant, and spend time outside in the sunshine.
5. Weight lose or maintenance — walking burns calories and overtime, calories burned can help you maintain or even lose pounds.
6. Stronger muscles — walking tones your legs and ab muscles. Not only will they look and feel better, but this will help relief pressure from your joints and help with balance.
7. Better sleep — Who doesn’t want this? (Maybe I’ve shared my love of sleep!) Studies have shown that people who have a regular walking routine sleep better than those who are sedentary.
8. Improved joint health — our joint cartilage doesn’t have a direct blood supply. The fluid our joints need circulates as we move. The more we move the better our joints feel. And for those of us with arthritis, this can mean pain reduction.
9. Better breathing — when you walk, your breathing rate increases (move quickly enough to make this happen — slow strolls are fine, but work up to increase your pace, your breath, and your heart rate). We oxygen travels faster through the bloodstream, it eliminates waste products and improves your energy level and ability to heal.
10. Sharper mind — A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. (arthritis.org)
11. Lower Alzheimer’s risk — recent studies have shown that people with a regular walking routine had decreased incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
12. Better quality of life for longer — the more you move, the more you will continue to be able to move. It is a cumulative effect and never too late to get started.
Fall is the perfect time to start a walking routine. The air is crisp, the leaves are crunchy, and there is still plenty of sunshine. Grab a friend, a neighbor, a family member, or a pet and get moving! Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. If outside doesn’t suit you, you can walk at the mall, on a treadmill, or even around your house.
Contact Amanda Root at Cornell Cooperative Extension of JeffersonCounty, 315-788-8450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.