Walking to Wellness

It’s a known fact that walking, just 15 minutes a day, can improve our health as we age. We’ve heard that for a long time.

Did you know that walking just that small amount can relieve you of anxiety and tension?

These are the days of upheaval. Seriously! It’s all over the news, and we talk about ‘these times’ daily! We’ve all experienced first hand the affect anxiety — in the form of world events and problems closer to home or work — has on us and our families and friends. Most of us have expanded our self care to deal with the stress. While 15 minutes does a lot, walking or other similar exercise for 30 minutes three times a week is optimal to decrease depression and stress.  It all has to do with neuropeptides, anxious amygdala, and serotonin. Some seniors with limitations prefer a stationary or recumbent bike or swimming. There are those seniors, of course, who run or jog or go in for more strenuous exercise. More power to them. When the pandemic hit, many adults found the more arduous workouts not sustainable. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that when you’re already feeling stressed out, intense, prolonged exercise may not be the right option.

Walking works for me

Some elders prefer bike riding or dancing, which also fill the bill nicely for relieving tension. The goal to relieve anxiety is to elevate your heart rate but not have it be racing. I call it being ‘comfortably uncomfortable.’ When I’m walking fast, it’s easy to talk at the same time.

Moderate exercise like walking also reduces the symptoms of depression. For individuals who prefer not taking medication for depression – or for whom medication doesn’t improve it – exercise goes a long way to reduce inflammation which is thought these days to be linked to stress.

Mental health

Feeling okay, day in and day out, is becoming trickier than in previous decades. New triggers get piled on when it seems impossible that we can withstand more. If it’s not politics, it’s the possibility of harm in our homes, public places, schools, and houses of worship. It’s the effects of climate change possibly taking from us all that we have worked for. It’s unsafe water/food/air. It’s war. We wake up to so much sad news everyday.

What we can do is provide safe keeping for our mental health, and that can be accomplished, or significantly impacted positively, by a short walk a few times a week.

Too much to consider? I think it’s worth it!