Want to gently maintain your shape after 50? Walking is the ideal physical activity. What are its benefits ? How do you get there? We answer you.
While it’s important to stay active throughout your life (including from the age of 20), in your 50s it becomes even more essential to maintain regular physical activity to stay healthy. Sweet and approachable everyone, regardless of age or state of health, walking is a way simple but effective maintain its shape after 50 years.
Traveling a few kilometers each day, at a more or less sustained pace, would indeed help to prevent certain age-related inconveniences, to promote overall well-being (physical and mental), and even to reduce the risk of triggering certain diseases. to which one is more subject when one is senior (after having celebrated one’s 50th birthday). What exactly are the benefits of walking? What is the minimum time to devote to it? How to practice it on a daily basis?
With each step, its benefit
As we know, the virtues of walking are numerous and this is even more the case with seniors where walking takes on a whole new meaning at this time of life when the energy is sometimes lacking to adopt more intense sports activities and where there are more health problems. Practicing walking makes it possible in particular to avoid several of them thanks to its various benefits because it helps to:
- Maintain muscle and strong bones
Walking daily helps prevent age-related loss of muscle mass and a slowdown in physical activity, while preserving bone capital. Not bad for avoiding osteoporosis!
This physical activity (like all the others) also helps to develop lung capacity in addition to giving a good bowl of oxygen to those who practice it.
- Avoid weight gain
By allowing us to burn an average of 200 Kcal / hour, walking also helps not to gain weight at a time of life when the metabolism slows down and where physical activity is often reduced.
- Increase your life expectancy
The mortality rate is lower among seniors who walk daily than among those who walk less than 3000 steps every day. This type of physical activity indeed lengthens life expectancy, by 3 to 5 years on average, but above all, while remaining in good health.
Faced with this disease which causes cartilage degradation in the joints, walking regularly is a very good answer to better live with osteoarthritis and slow down its progression because it promotes its renewal, while strengthening the muscles, which stabilizes the joints.
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
Walking strengthens your heart and increases your heart rate. A sustained daily walk would even help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by half. A good reason to increase your walking pace a little!
- Regulate your diabetes naturally
Regular walking is also a good way to facilitate the work of insulin, which regulates the level of sugar in the blood, because by being solicited, the muscles use a maximum of carbohydrates. If you walk and have early diabetes, walking will help slow its development, especially if you take a brisk walk.
- Promote mental well-being
In addition to the fact that this activity boosts the production of endorphins to give you a feeling of well-being, walking would also help fight against depression by helping us to keep our spirits up. It would also participate in preventing dementia in seniors and in particular Alzheimer’s disease* and in reducing twilight agitation in people who are affected**.
How many steps per day should you take after 50?
To maintain your metabolism, it is important to take a minimum of steps per day. The WHO sets it at 10,000 steps per day for a healthy adult, but after the age of 50 this goal can become difficult to achieve. Rest assured, in reality, seniors do not necessarily need to walk so much every day. Between the ages of 40 and 60, a woman needs to take “only” 8,500 steps daily to stay in shape, compared to only 8,000 after age 60. A man should take 9,000 steps between the ages of 50 and 60, then could settle for 8,000 daily steps to maintain his physical shape in his sixties. But since everything depends of course on the physical form of each one, one can in fact conclude thata minimum of 4,400 to 7,500 steps per dayrepresenting between 2.5 and 3 km, would be sufficient to maintain the form among seniors.
What type of walk to adopt after 50 years?
If taking a leisurely walk is a way of walking that is well suited after 50, it is not the only type of walking that is worth adopting for your health. Know that you have everything to gain by increasing your cruising speed to move up a gear and to practice brisk walking or Nordic walking. But group walking, slow, fast or Nordic, also has a significant additional advantage.
Brisk walking for better results
While normal walking is around 4.5 to 6 km/hour, brisk walking – also called fitness walking – encourages you to move between 6 and 8 km/hour over short distances to best benefit from benefits of walking. More dynamic, this type of walking allows you to work on your cardio and your endurance even better. It works your whole body in stride to gain more muscle, which promotes balance, burns more calories (up to 300Kcal / hour) and above all increases the basal metabolism, in short, your ability to burn calories at rest.
Nordic walking, an alternative for nature lovers
What is also called Scandinavian walking is ultimately a brisk walk in the middle of nature that looks like a hike, but softer. Sea or mountain, there are many marked trails suitable for all tastes. It is practiced with walking sticks on which you can lean to facilitate your movements on uphill paths for example.
Group walking to keep spirits up
Less focused on walking technique, it is practiced in a club to share the activity with other seniors, even if it is also possible to organize it on your own with your small circle of friends. In any case, it’s a way to keep social ties while taking care of yourself.
How do I find a walking club for seniors? The best thing is to contact your town hall or your county council, which will be able to direct you to local sports associations and clubs.
How to start walking after 50?
It all depends on your physical condition, but if you are more sedentary, start with a slow, simple and short daily walk before increasing the pace and duration of the latter to increase the effort. Thus, walking will remain a pleasure and you will be able to progress without risking losing your motivation and without straining according to your physical abilities.
What equipment for walking?
If walking is an inexpensive physical activity, it will still be important to equip yourself with good shoes adapted to your practice (slow, fast or hiking type walking) and to your possible orthopedic problems. In terms of clothing, it is enough that they are comfortable to allow you better freedom of movement. Finally, if you opt for Nordic walking, you will still need to invest in a pair of walking sticks. A water bottle and a light backpack (so as not to weigh you down) can also be useful if you walk for a long time so that you can hydrate yourself regularly during exercise.
3 tips for walking more every day
- Reserve time slots in your schedule to do so
The best way to make sure you don’t forget to go for a walk is to plan times for it.
- Leave the car for short trips
Leaving the car in the garage for short trips is a great way to easily increase your number of steps per day without even realizing it.
- Equip yourself at home
Walking outside is pleasant, but when the weather is not good and hinders the practice, it becomes easier to invest in a treadmill for bad weather days. An easy trick to never miss your 30-minute walk a day in winter again.
*Luisa Soares-Miranda, David S. Siscovick, Bruce M. Psaty, WT LongstrethJr and Dariush Mozaffarian, “Physical Activity and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Older Adults”, The Cardiovascular Health Study, Circulation, Volume 133, N° 2, 4 Nov 2015, https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018323
**Collectif LaNutrition.fr, 2007, “Walking would prevent dementia”, La Nutrition, 26/12/2007, https://www.lanutrition.fr/les-news/la-marche-a-pied-prevenirait-la-demence-.
***Fondation Mederic Alzheimer, 2020,”Walking reduces twilight agitation”, Fondation Mederic Alzheimer, 2020, N°169, https://www.fondation-mederic-alzheimer.org/la-marche-pied-reduit-lagitation-crepusculaire