Walking Holds The Key To Greater Independence and Health For Seniors
Good news! A recent study conducted at the University of Georgia determined that seniors who included walking as a part of their daily regime stood to gain immense health benefits, particularly because it increases oxygen consumption. This translates into greater independence and a reduction in disability.
The research, which was conducted by M. Elaine Cress, professor of kinesiology and researcher in the UGA Institute of Gerontology and Trudy M. Harrison, a former UGA doctoral student, was comprised of 26 low-income seniors. They were divided into two groups. One group walked 3 times per week for 4 months while the control group received nutrition education only.
According to the researchers, the study enables people to determine how walking programs promote optimal physical functioning rather than just focusing on strength training exercises improve feelings of independence in seniors.
The walking group began with 10 contiguous minutes of walking and gradually progressed to 40 minutes by the end of the 4-month period. Each session included a total of 20 minutes for warming up and cooling down that included stretching, to enhance flexibility and balancing exercises to reduce the risk of falling. Trudy Moore-Harrison decided to use low-income participants because they were more likely to: have fewer finances, be less physically active, are suffering from long-term medical conditions and have insufficient or no health insurance.
The results of the study, which appear in the current issue of the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, indicate a 19 percent increase in their peak aerobic capacity, a 25 percent increase in physical function as measured by a questionnaire and the ability to perform physical activities such as climbing stairs and wearing outwear. The walking group also decreased their risk of disability by 41 percent when compared to the control group.
Sticking to an exercise program can be challenging but the walkers not only stuck with it for 4 months but also enjoyed the experience, as it gave them the opportunity to affiliate and form new relationships. Cress stated aerobic capacity is what motivates us to do the things we want to do. Increased aerobic capacity allows us to have more energy to perform tasks and have energy leftover for leisure activities.
Since walking doesn’t require any special equipment (a comfortable pair of shoes is all you need) anyone can do it. There are still not enough people engaging in this low-cost activity. Walking provides many health related benefits. Begin your walking routine today!