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5 Benefits of Walking for Seniors

While many gyms and senior centers remain closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, socially-distanced walking can still take place in your home or neighborhood. The CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. AUM promotes independent living and exercise, and walking is a great way to get the CDC’s recommended physical activity without reliance on people or equipment.  

Besides being a convenient, affordable physical activity, walking offers these additional benefits:

#1: Walking can reduce stress and sleep problems  

Whether you walk indoors on a treadmill or outside, a study at the National Institute of Aging shows that older people who engage in moderate daily exercise are able to fall asleep quickly, sleep for longer periods, and get better quality of sleep. If you have access to the outdoors, walking outside has been shown to be a natural stress reliever and helps provide the vitamin D our bodies need. 

If you walk outdoors, always remember to maintain proper social distancing. If you’re on a path that is less than 6-feet wide, maintain a safe distance between yourself and others. Find more information on social distancing while walking, by visiting America Walks.

#2: Walking helps reduce falls 

In the same National Institute of Aging study, it was found that exercise, including walking, can improve balance and lead to a reduction in falls among older people by 33 percent. As with all forms of exercise, practice safety while walking, including being mindful of clearing toes when stepping forward.

#3: Walking and strength-building exercises can help reduce pain

People with knee or hip osteoarthritis can benefit greatly from walking. Movement helps mitigate pain and the damage caused by osteoarthritis by building surrounding muscles and stabilizing the hurting joint. Individuals who walk experience a reduction in pain that helps maintain function and quality of life. 

#4: Walking provides emotional benefits

In addition to the physical benefits that come from walking, there are emotional benefits as well. Walking not only increases energy level, but it can also enhance mood and overall emotional well-being, and help reduce feelings of depression. 

#5Taking a walk can help you live longer and healthier 

The American Physical Therapy Association reports that even a small amount of walking has an impact on overall health and well-being. Compared with inactivity, just two hours of walking per week was associated with lower rates of death from respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

If You Experience Lower Body Pain While Walking

Many people experience pain in the lower back or the leg when they begin walking for exercise. This may be a result of issues somewhere in the lower extremity chain—foot, ankle, knee, or hip. Every time you take a step and put your foot down, there is a ground reaction force that needs to be absorbed by the heel, knee, hip, and eventually the lower back. Certain structures are meant to bear body weight while others are not. If there is any problem anywhere in that chain, you may experience pain with walking. 

If you experience pain in the lower back or leg, contact your PT to nip it in the bud so you can resume long-distance walking on even and uneven surfaces without pain.   


Walking is a great way to engage in an appropriately socially-distanced physical activity that improves your mood and decreases stress.

To schedule a telehealth or in-person appointment with Vrinda Hatti at A.U.M. Physical Therapy, please contact us today.

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