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Why Should Grandparents Choose Walking for Exercise?

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Walking outdoors is exhilarating and healthful and fun.

Walking gets one in touch with the great outdoors.

Photo © Caroline Woodham
Question: Why Should Grandparents Choose Walking for Exercise?
We keep hearing that walking is a perfect exercise, but is it really? Can something so easy really be beneficial?
Answer:

Walking may not in fact be the perfect exercise--more about that later--but it is certainly an excellent fit for many grandparents. Here's why.

  • Almost everyone can do it.
  • It doesn't require a gym membership or special equipment--just a good pair of shoes. That means that almost everyone can afford to do it.
  • It can be done in small bits. If you don't have an big chunk of time to spend exercising, take three 10-minute walking breaks instead.
  • It can pay off in improved cardiovascular health, less risk of diabetes and improved brain function. In addition, exercise offers some protection against depression.
  • Listening to music, podcasts or audio books is easy to do while walking. It's difficult during more strenuous exercise and hard to do in the pool!
  • Walking is enjoyable to do with others, as a good walking pace allows for conversation. Join a walking group to find new friends to walk with.
  • It's fun to walk with the grandkids, and it sets a good example for them as well.
  • Walking is versatile. It can be done out-of-doors, inside a gym or mall, on a treadmill, or even in the home.
  • When done out of doors, walking gets us in touch with nature, which many people find to be food for the spirit.

So, is walking the perfect exercise? Here are some of the reasons why not.

  • Walking is low intensity, so fitness gains and weight loss happen slowly, causing some to become discouraged.
  • Walking can cause injuries, especially to joints. Falling is always a hazard, especially when trail-walking. For those for whom falls are likely to be serious, water exercise may be a better bet.

Walking may not be perfect, but for many grandparents, it's close enough.

Before you go, here's a little more you should know about a sedentary lifestyle:

  • In a recent American Cancer Society study, women who reported that they sat more than six hours per day were 37 percent more likely to die than those who said that they sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • The results were less shocking for men, but still those who sat more than six hours per day were 18 percent more likely to die.
  • Other studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is linked to greater insulin resistance and an increase in "markers" for certain cancers.
Some individuals who have led sedentary lifestyles will decide to make a drastic change. Most of us, however, are more likely to stick with a moderate change. What easier way to do it than taking up walking?

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