Walking is Good for Balance and Preventing Falls

A dog waiting to go for a walk. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
A dog waiting to go for a walk. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

November is senior’s falls prevention month. Studies have shown that walking is good for balance. A good balance does help prevent falls.

Walking is not always easy. Changing weather and flu season is a hindrance to establish consistent walking habit. Icy roads and sidewalks are dangerous. People find indoor areas like malls and indoor walking trails in places like YMCA very helpful.

We do have many good days in spring, summer and fall. The majority of the people should be able to walk to most of the places. But the problem is we are always in a hurry to get to our destination and then rush back home. We never seem to stop and ask, “Why am I rushing? Why cannot I take my time and enjoy the walk?”

You can walk leisurely 30 minutes a day for general health benefits. You can walk briskly to improve cardiovascular fitness by walking 30 minutes a day five days a week. If you are trying to lose weight then you need to walk briskly for 45 to 60 minutes a day five days a week. And make your dinner slimmer.

Get serious about your walking. Pedometers are the easiest way to keep track and log your daily activity. UWALK recommends the Piezo StepX pedometers, however any pedometer will work – see UWALK website. You can also track and log your daily activity using other activity monitors.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the term walking is used to describe both walking in a park and trekking in the Alps. However, in Canada and the United States the term for a long, vigorous walk is hiking, while the word walking covers shorter walks, especially in an urban setting, says UWALK website.

Scientific literature suggests that regular, brisk exercise of any kind can improve confidence, stamina, energy, weight control and life expectancy and reduce stress. It can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and other health problems.

There is no doubt or any disagreement in scientific literature that sustained walking sessions for a minimum period of 30 to 60 minutes a day, five days a week, reduce health risks and have various overall health benefits – physical and mental. Walking is seriously encouraged because these days people walk less than they used to. If you are not a regular walker then it is time to start. For seniors it certainly helps prevent falls.

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