Did you know that taking a simple walk can greatly improve your health? Whether you suffer from lower back pain, high cholesterol, or just sit a lot at work, taking a walk is a great way to start combating those health issues. With all the health benefits that come with walking, it’s worth it, even in the winter! Whether you bundle up and take a stroll outside, or find an indoor track or mall to walk around, or jump on the treadmill for a bit, we want to encourage you to go on a walk today!
The current physical activity guidelines recommend that older adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity on most, if not all, days of the week. One study looked to see if walking less than the recommended amount could still provide health benefits. The walking program comprised of 30-50 minutes of walking on 2 days per week for 12 weeks. Their results showed that a low-volume walking program helped reduce the ratio of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, reduce resting arterial blood pressure, and increase the HDL cholesterol concentration in older adults. This is important because LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol as high levels of LDL leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. The HDL is the “good” cholesterol as it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver and your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.
Walking is also considered an effective treatment option for low back pain. One study compared standard tailored physical therapy, a weekly exercise class specifically aimed at patients with back pain, and a tailored graduated walking program for chronic low back pain treatments. The walking program included walking at least 4 days a week for at least 10 minutes with the goal of achieving 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week. They found, using the Oswestry Disability Index, that all groups improved in pain and function. However, significantly more walkers achieved a clinically important difference in their Oswestry Disability Index score compared to the other groups. Also, cost was the lowest and sustained adherence with treatment was the highest for the walking program.
Walking is a great way for the elderly population to stay active and healthy. Walking has many benefits, some of them include improving heart health, lowering blood sugar, reducing back pain, being cost friendly, promoting social engagement, and boosting mental health. Any amount of walking is better than nothing. We want to encourage you to take a walk today, whether that is outside or at the Hegg Wellness Center, a simple walk can be very beneficial to your health.
- Park J-H, Miyashita M, Takahashi M, et al. Low-volume walking program improves cardiovascular-related health in older adults. Journal of sports science & medicine. 2014;13(3):624-631.
- Walking Program Effective for Chronic Low Back Pain. American Family Physician. 2015;92(3):230.
Guest Author: Jon Alford, Hegg Rehabilitation Student