Many people find it difficult to exercise, but what if you found out it was as easy as taking a walk? This is what a long-term study now suggests after following participants for more than two years. In short, walking can be beneficial to your health, especially as you age.
Researchers looked at more than 1,600 sedentary people between the ages of 70 and 89 years old. While some of them had functional limitations, many of them could walk at least a quarter of a mile in 15 minutes without assistance. In short, the majority could be regular exercisers.
Prior to beginning the study, the participants were provided with a health education program that taught them stretching exercises and encouraged at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. Walking was emphasized, according to Thomas Gill, one of the authors of the study.
After about 2.7 years of observation, the researchers discovered that the physical activity program reduced the amount of time that people spend with a “major mobility disability” by 25 percent. These individuals were the study participants who could not walk a quarter of a mile.
But this is not the first time that researchers have identified the benefits of simple, aerobic activity. Earlier results from the same study, published in 2014, looked at how a structured physical activity program could help individuals prevent becoming disabled. They concluded that regular aerobic activity could potentially reduce the risk of immobility.
“A structured moderate intensity physical activity program, compared with a health education program, reduced major mobility disability over 2.6 years among older adults at risk of disability,” wrote the authors of the study. “These findings suggest mobility benefit from such a program in vulnerable older adults.”
However, it isn’t just the results of this study that could potentially change the way that adults view exercise. Some experts suggest that physicians should be prescribing medications, similar to how they prescribe medicine for certain ailments.
In any case, the researchers of the study suggested to all of their participants to “start slow.” They also noted the difference between calling it “physical activity,” rather than “exercise,” which sounds like a more doable activity. Perhaps a change in perspective is all it takes to kick-start a workout program with long-term benefits.
Hobson, Katherine. “Walking Fends Off Loss Of Mobility, And It’s Not Too Late To Start.” NPR. Published Sept. 26, 2016.
Pahor, Marco. Guralnik, Jack. Ambrosius, Walter. Blair, Steven. Bonds, Denise. Church, Timothy. Espeland, Mark. Fielding, Roger. Gill, Thomas. Groessl, Erik. King, Abby. Kritchevsky, Stephen. Manini, Todd. McDermott, Mary. Miller, Michael. Newman, Anne. Rejeski, W Jack. Sink. Sink, Kaycee. Williamson, Jeff. “Effect of structured physical activity on prevention of major mobility disability in older adults: the LIFE Study randomized clinical trial.” JAMA. Published June 18, 2014.