When was the last time you took a walk? How did you feel afterwards? Maybe a little winded, but probably pretty good and ready to relax, right?
A good, brisk walk is one of nature’s most perfect exercises because it not only works many muscles, but it feeds oxygen to the brain, increases energy and improves mood and cognition. Of course, this is especially important for individuals who live with dementia. And it is why our Anthem Memory Care communities conduct regular walks, either on our own grounds or at one of our local parks. Residents love them. (Our staff members do too!)
What’s great about walking is that you can do it anywhere, around the block, a park, or even in your backyard or inside your home.
The Mayo Clinic has a compiled an impressive list of the benefits of a brisk walk. You may not realize just how many there are:
- Maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes
- Improve cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve muscle endurance
- Increase energy levels
- Improve your mood, cognition, memory and sleep
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Strengthen immune system
- Reduce stress and tension
The Highline Place Memory Care “Walking Club” (Littleton, Colorado) gets out and about regularly.
As for frequency of walking, most health experts recommend a short walk every day if possible. Otherwise, at least a minimum of five days per week. Much, of course, depends on your overall health and physical endurance.
If you are caring for a loved one who has dementia, try to make it a point to get them up and out for a short walk as frequently as possible. The act of walking, with a friend by your side, has many emotional benefits as well. Chances are you’ll both come back more relaxed and in a more positive frame of mind.
(The top image shows residents of Emerald Place Memory Care in Glenview, Illinois, out for a walk in their local park!)