Movement is essential when it comes to having healthy muscles, a healthy mind, and a healthy heart. As you age, of course, your body is likely to change, making specific movements somewhat limited. From a heart health standpoint, one type of activity in particular that a cardiologist wants all of her patients to begin doing once they hit the age of 50: walk! Karol Watson is a cardiologist and co-director at the UCLA preventative cardiology program, she says that the best exercise for people over 50 is walking. That is because, as simple as it is, walking is the most foundational, universal workout that practically anyone can do. “The best way to start [with an exercise program] is with regular walking,” she says. Karol says that walking is just as beneficial for us as any other form of cardio. “You can achieve the same benefits faster with, say, running, but the benefits are the same.” Your heart rate goes up: check. Your legs are moving, check and you are working all of your muscles: check. All the elements are all there, but walking happens to be the most accessible, least risky form of exercise for older fitness goers.
“Walking is accessible to almost everyone, and it is associated with lower rates of injury,” she says. Compared to many other workouts, it is much easier on the joints since it is lower-impact, versus running, during which you’re joints are pounding the pavement. Just because walking is so simple does not mean it has to be boring. There are many ways to pep up your steps. Dr. Watson recommends starting at a slow pace and then working your way up to a more vigorous pace. Her tip? Listen to ‘Staying Alive’ and try to get to the pace of the song. You could walk at an incline to up the resistance factor. Holding onto weights can also add an arm workout to your steps, or you could even try power walking. But before you lace up, Dr. Watson recommends checking with your doctor.