At 96 years old Mary Ann Smith is a feat to be reckoned with. She credits her longevity, in part, to keeping on the move.
“I try to walk every morning after breakfast. I go three times around our building which, they say, is about a mile,” says Smith.
Good news for walkers: studies show they get many of the same benefits as runners. They just have to walk more to get them. While runners expend twice the energy, slow-movers are rewarded too.
“Definitely, I mean I think that most of us, when we exercise we feel better. Whether it’s because it relieves some natural endorphins that are your body’s natural pain killers or the fact that you feel positive about the fact that you are doing something,” says Kath Kinross, PhD physical therapy with Lee Memorial Health System.
Experts find walking boosts energy, helps cardiovascular fitness and also increases bone strength. Something that becomes more important as we age. When it comes to older women, walking can be a weapon against osteoporosis.
“It’s that sort of repetitive stress that actually creates more calcium, more bone being laid down,” says Kinross.
Running or walking, both deliver results by increasing strength and stamina.
“There are two very distinct, different types of exercise. There are weight bearing exercises, including walking, where you’re just basically transmitting weight through your skeleton,” says Kinross.
It may be just the thing for people who aren’t worried about getting anywhere, fast.
“Oh yes, I’ve walked quite a bit during my lifetime,” says Smith.