Jason Fleming, MD, a board-certified cardiologist with Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians, answers your questions about the health benefits of light walking or physical activity.
A: As long as your aunt is able to safely maneuver through her house and up and down the stairs, this is an acceptable form of aerobic workout that can provide both physical and mental benefits.
Aerobic activity is anything that challenges your heart and circulatory system to meet extra oxygen needs and improves the way the heart works. Besides stairs, some other examples of aerobic physical activity include:
It makes little difference if you work out in the morning, afternoon or evening. The health benefits are the same.
What does matter is that exercise becomes a routine that fits your schedule well and the activity is something you enjoy doing.
Just by incorporating 30 minutes of regular movement into your day, you can reap some unexpected benefits, such as:
When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
Activity helps boost the "good" cholesterol in your body and decreases the not-so-good triglycerides. This can help reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease. Regular activity can also help prevent stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, cancer, arthritis and falls.
Physical activity releases certain brain chemicals that may help you feel happier and more peaceful. You may also feel better about your appearance when you are active, which in turn, can boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength and boost endurance. Aerobic activity sends oxygen and other nutrients to your tissues and improves the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. When your heart and lung health improve, there is more energy to take on daily chores.
Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just be sure not to work out too close to bedtime, or you may be too keyed up to get to sleep.
Physical activity can help you connect with others or even meet new people. Whether it's a dance class, hiking through a local park or joining a sports team, physical activity is a great way to improve your health, try something new or provide an activity for you and a friend.
If you have a chronic disease or haven't been active in a while, it's a good idea to talk with your doctor before you start in on a new program. It's best to gradually work your way into the habit to avoid overdoing it. Also, remember to incorporate warm up and cool down periods to avoid injury to your muscles. Warm ups can be as simple as moving at a slow pace for the first five minutes, then increasing your intensity level. After finishing, cool down by gradually slowing down.