Why walking is so important for your health
With such busy lives, it is important to look after yourself. The health benefits of walking can have a huge impact on your life. Walking more will reduce your stress, help clear your mind and believe it or not – give you more energy. Working in Aged Care you will also notice the benefits to those in care if you introduce walking into your weekly rituals.
Most of us walk at least a short distance every day. Some days just to the letterbox, but other days much further. Walking is a simple way of incorporating exercise into your life on a daily basis without it being too strenuous or require expensive equipment.
The health benefits of walking
Enjoy a longer, healthier life
Working in aged care is made easier when you’re fit and healthy. And according to Better Health, just 30 minutes of walking each day can have many health benefits.
The health benefits we can expect to experience include:
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Improved bone and muscle strength
- Reduced excess body fat
- Lower stress levels
- Improved mood
- Reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers
That’s an impressive list for only 30 minutes of commitment per day!
Anyone, anywhere, anytime
The beauty of walking is that is it so simple. There is no need for equipment, memberships or special clothing – it can be done anywhere, any time! This includes for those living in aged care. Comfortable, sturdy shoes and a good water bottle is all that your need. It is best to be aware of the weather too – make sure you have your hat, sunscreen, umbrella or raincoat if appropriate.
Almost anyone can take on walking as a daily priority, as it is a great exercise that is gentle on the body and anyone can start at their own pace. It can also be used as a social activity, being a great way to get up and moving with your friends.
Walking could even be worth recommending or encouraging to individuals in your care, depending on their health of course. Getting the okay from your doctor before commencing any new exercise regime is always a good idea, but particularly for older Australians. In saying that, the Australian Government Department for Health and Ageing recommends that older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities, with 30 minutes per day the recommended minimum.
This government booklet covers a list of excuses that both younger and older Australians may come up with and how to overcome them and get started. Here are some examples:
- I might get injured: If you walk it is highly unlikely you will be injured
- I don’t have access or transport: Be active where you live – walk to visit a friend, get a coffee or to the letterbox
- I can’t afford it: Walking doesn’t cost a thing
- I’m too old: You are never too old!
Start off slowly. Once you’re comfortable, maximum the benefits of walking by assessing your pace. The aim is to walk at a speed where you are puffing slightly, but can still talk. This means your heart rate should be at a safe but worthwhile level, and you can still feel the benefits of exercising.
If you are hesitant or think it will get boring quickly, make sure you mix it up! Try evening walks, morning walks, walks on the beach, at the park, or discover your local walking tracks around where you live.
If you’re time poor, try fitting some extra steps in where you can by taking the stairs instead of the lift (even just for part of the ride), get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way, park further away from your destination and walk the extra distance.
Start walking more and feel the health benefits of walking for yourself, and encourage the older individuals in your care to do the same!