Simply earlier than the pandemic, I walked 96 miles (154.5 km) in seven days on the West Highland Method in Scotland, although I used to be hardly alone on this endeavor. About 250 folks begin the stroll every day, together with the wonderful group of major ladies that I walked with, indicative of each the attraction of the path and the recognition of this type of bodily exercise.
All kinds of folks had been strolling. There have been younger folks and outdated folks, some match and a few not so clearly so. The stroll was exhilarating and on the similar time arduous and really lengthy. A lot of the good feeling of satisfaction I had on the finish of every single day was the sensation of accomplishment at having bodily and emotionally pushed my very own limits.
This journey made me take into consideration strolling in a means that I had by no means really completed earlier than, and the way this easy exercise may play such an essential position in our each day well being and well-being, notably given the continuing challenges of COVID-19.
As a geriatrician and researcher specializing in ladies and ageing, I’m typically requested by ladies what we are able to do to age properly. Whereas there is no such thing as a fountain of youth, no capsule to maintain you younger, or single reply on promote social connections, there are frequent sense issues that may be completed to advertise well being and well-being and scale back loneliness. Strolling is considered one of them.
What I got here to appreciate throughout my lengthy stroll was that by strolling, you not solely enhance your bodily perform but additionally create social connections that scale back loneliness. Strolling is a social sport, even should you do it alone, you inevitably meet folks alongside the way in which.
Steps matter to well being. Whereas we regularly hear about the advantage of 10,000 steps, a research of older ladies from the Girls’s Well being Examine discovered that taking 4,400 steps or extra per day was linked to decrease mortality in comparison with ladies taking about half as many steps per day.
But, ladies stroll lower than males.
Loneliness is a matter that we have now all skilled throughout COVID-19, however one which has been notably difficult for older ladies. Girls make up nearly all of Canada’s nearly seven million older adults. Older ladies are extra doubtless than older males to stay alone, and greater than 40 p.c of those ladies report being lonely. The previous US Surgeon Common has equated the well being affect of loneliness to the equal of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Throughout the pandemic, strolling has grow to be an much more enticing choice as a result of it’s often completed outside, decreasing the possibility of transmitting an infection, offering a possibility to fulfill with associates extra safely. It is also cheap. You want a pair of strolling sneakers, and you can begin out of your entrance door.
So, what are you ready for? Cut back your loneliness, enhance your well-being – and take step one.
Paula Rochon is a geriatrician.
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