Seniors Walk Off Calories (and Stress) at the Mall

muscles movingI see so many seniors walking, jogging or even biking in the spring or summer months. However, when the air starts to turn cool signaling the approach of the winter months, people often hibernate like bears! After dinner, many watch TV and get into a slump, thinking – “when’s this winter going to end?”

Recently, while at a shopping mall early in the morning and noticed the senior ‘mall walkers.’ It made me laugh to see them hard at work walking nowhere. However, as each new birthday approaches, it doesn’t seem as funny anymore. These determined-looking seniors walk before the stores open, or when they’ve just closed. Benefits of walking indoors include no heavy coats, no wind or cold blasts, no getting soaked as cars speed through slush or snow.

Many malls have walking clubs, especially on Saturday mornings. So why is there a surge in the 55 + age group of walkers?

Some reasons why seniors need to move their bodies:

  • to build muscle and burn off calories
  • to reduce stress
  • to engage ‘feel-good’ endorphins
  • to keep bones strong
  • to improve balance
  • to lift depression
  • to reduce blood sugar levels
  • to reduce the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer
  • to look and feel a whole lot better!

(Walking from the couch to the fridge doesn’t count.) Many people I see in my nutrition practice in this age group are too heavy, especially around the middle. This telltale sign is dangerous – more risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and diabetes. Swollen bellies are usually caused by eating too many high calorie carbohydrates – soda pop, chocolate bars, pastas, and breads, croissants, cake, cookies, too many fruit juices which in excess can raise cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

So what’s this got to do with walking? Well, if you burn off some of those extra calories by walking, your blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure levels (and weight) will come down. Also, by walking, you may cut down your cravings for these types of foods. Yes, it’s difficult to give up comfort foods – foods that often remind us of earlier times in our lives. We can actually become addicted to those high calorie carbohydrates which also score high on the glycemic index scale – the subject of my next article.

So are you ready to walk three or four times a week for about 30 minutes at a time?  It would be the best decision you could make for yourself. Walk your dog; or ask a friend to join you and make it an enjoyable social event. Or you can get adventurous and walk at a shopping mall.