The Surprising Physical and Mental Benefits of Walking

Written by Contributor. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on September 03, 2019 with No Comments

By Natalie Reisen, Marketing Coordinator for Residences at Coffee Creek

There’s an easy way to manage your weight, help reduce your risk of heart disease, banish stress, and improve your outlook. Oh, and it’s free. All you have to do is lace up your sneakers and head outside.

That’s right – walking, and especially walking outdoors, comes with a plethora of mental and physical health benefits. Learn more about them and get tips for rediscovering this enjoyable habit below.

Physical Health Benefits of Walking

First up, the most immediate health benefit of going for a walk is the cardiovascular exercise it provides. Brisk walking gets your heart rate up and helps burn more calories. A “brisk” walking pace is generally considered taking 120 steps or more per minute.

And following up on that calorie burn: You use more energy than you might expect while walking. A 140-pound person, for example, will burn about 90 calories per mile.

Another perk of walking compared to other forms of cardio is that it’s low-impact – easier on your joints and ligaments. For instance, running is a high-impact activity with a lot of pounding on the pavement. But when you’re walking, you have one foot on the ground at all times, and that minimizes the impact.

Finally, don’t overlook these other health benefits that can come with a regular walking routine:

  • Reduced risk for dementia
  • Less stiffness and inflammation
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Mental Health Benefits of Walking

Taking a walk does more than keep you physically healthy. It’s good for your brain because, as an aerobic exercise, it helps circulate more blood to your brain and throughout your body.

Taking a walk can help improve your mood by:

  • Reducing feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Helping you become more self-confident.
  • Making you feel more energetic.
  • Allowing you to get better-quality sleep

Walking Outside at Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

While you can still get plenty of health benefits from walking indoors on a treadmill or fitness center track, you’ll likely enjoy walks outdoors even more. Going outside comes with another set of health benefits you’ll enjoy – like getting your daily dose of Vitamin D.

Getting outside is good for people of all ages. At Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve, located adjacent to Residences at Coffee Creek in Chesterton, residents are enjoying the relationship between the two organizations.

Whether on casual hikes or while visiting the preserve as part of Residences’ Coffee and a Concert series, the residents get to enjoy the sights of the 157 acre-park and the 436 native plant species that call it home.

“It’s a great way for them to stay connected and engaged,” said Katie Rizer, executive director of the preserve. “And that connection to nature is good for a million reasons.”

One unique aspect of the preserve is the sparkling-clear Coffee Creek (so named because a bag of coffee beans fell off the wagon of a passing settler and into the water, according to Rizer). That makes it possible for residents and other visitors to watch large fish, like salmon, spawn on their way to Lake Michigan.

Tips to Jumpstart Your Walking Habit

Ready to start a walking routine after reading about the health benefits? Walking is one of the simplest activities to start doing – you just need a good pair of shoes and a place to do it.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, don’t be afraid to take it slow. And if you’re wondering if you’re “too old” to start enjoying the good that comes from walking – you aren’t! Physical fitness is important at any age, and no matter when you start, you’ll be doing something healthy for yourself.

The current physical activity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advise getting 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. If you have an illness or injury that keeps you from getting that much exercise, try to work in as much as you can – you’ll still see benefits.

Keep these other tips in mind as you begin your walking regimen.

  • Going for a walk doesn’t have to be an isolated activity. Try walking to the grocery store or post office instead of driving. You’ll cross something off your to-do list while getting exercise.
  • Bring a friend or find a group to join. The more enjoyable you find walking, the more likely you are to stick with it – and you’ll have someone to be accountable to.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk in unfamiliar areas, especially alone or after dark.
  • Wear proper gear depending on the weather. That includes adding sunscreen and dressing in layers when it’s cold.

Natalie Reisen works as the Marketing Coordinator for Residences at Coffee Creek, located at 2300 Village Point in Chestertonserving as a key playing in supporting new residents and families making the transition to senior living. In addition, Natalie is a Certified Dementia Practitioner.  A native of the region, Natalie was raised in Portage and she graduated with her Bachelors of Communication from Purdue University and her Masters of Business Administration from University of Saint Francis. For more information, contact her at 219-921-5200 or email Natalie directly at nreisen@residencesatcoffeecreek.com.


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