Many people stop exercising as they get older, even if they were quite active in their younger years. And while high-impact workouts can do more harm than good for seniors, that doesn’t mean people should grow sedentary. If you aren’t dealing with extremely limited mobility, consider taking regular walks. Although this simple activity might not seem like much, you’d be surprised just how beneficial strolling around can be.

The dangers of sitting still 
There’s no doubt that rest is important for your body. It helps you heal, keeps your mind sharp and generally boosts your wellbeing. However, spending too much time sitting can have an adverse affect on your health. According to Medical Daily, there are a slew of physical and mental health dangers associated with living a sedentary lifestyle.

“Remaining sedentary can cause your spine to curve.”

The source explains that because human bodies are intended for motion, a lack of exercise can cause the spinal cord to curve. This can have a negative effect on your overall posture, which can in turn cause problems for the rest of your body. Chronic slouching causes your lungs to be restricted, making it difficult for you to take in an appropriate amount of oxygen, which may spur circulation issues. This lack of effective breathing can also impact your mental clarity, as the brain requires certain amounts of oxygen to function properly.

According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, leading an inactive lifestyle can boost your chances of getting colon and breast cancer. People who remain sedentary are also more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, have heart attacks and strokes, and experience depression. Not moving can also have an adverse affect on bone and muscle health. The source notes that lean muscle tissue deterioration and bone loss are exacerbated in people who don’t participate in any physical activities.

Walking is the perfect low-impact activity.
Walking is the perfect low-impact activity.

Warm up to walking 
Just because remaining sedentary can cause health issues doesn’t mean you should start attempting long-distance running. It simply means that instead of spending all day sitting down, you should make a conscious effort to get moving as much as possible. Walking is an effective, gentle way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine without putting too much stress on your body. Here are some of the top benefits associated with strolling instead of sitting.

1. Circulation 
The Arthritis Foundation reports that simply taking one 30-minute walk each day can greatly improve your circulation. This can reduce your risk of having a stroke, lower your blood pressure and boost your cardiovascular health.

2. Memory 
Taking walks affects your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing. American Trails points to a study conducted at Scripps College, which involved 62 people between the ages of 55 and 91. Half the participants went for regular walks, while the other half led sedentary lifestyles. When tested, the active group scored better on memory, reasoning and reaction-time exams.

3. Weight loss 
Of course, walking will help you burn some extra calories. This can cause you to lose weight, which is important for your overall health. Being obese may increase your chances of developing certain diseases, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

4. Muscles and joints 
Walking helps you build muscle and joint strength. Simply carrying your own body weight can bolster your muscles, especially if you use your arms to propel yourself forward. The Arthritis Foundation notes that people dealing with arthritis typically experience less pain after incorporating walking into their routines, as their muscles and joints grow stronger and are able to offer more support.

5. Sleep 
If you haven’t been exercising, you may have noticed that your sleep patterns are irregular or that you have trouble dozing off. Because your body is in a state of rest all day, you likely aren’t tired when bedtime rolls around. Walking can help you burn off some extra energy and allow you to get a good night’s sleep.

Safety while strolling 
It’s important to stay safe and healthy while getting your exercise. Avoid accidents by walking during the day. If you prefer to stroll in the dark, make sure you bring a friend and use flashlights to survey the ground in search of obstacles that might cause you to trip. Wear supportive shoes and loose, covering exercise clothing to stay comfortable and protect yourself from the sun during the daytime. Stay cool and hydrated by bringing a bottle of water with you as well.

When walking isn’t an option 
Sometimes mobility issues can get in the way of taking regular walks. When this happens, you should still make an effort to remain as active as possible. Spark People suggests doing seated activities like lifting light weights, punching the air, playing catch and making circles with your wrists and arms.

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