The decline in physical and cognitive health as we age impairs our quality of life. But researchers from the University of Tsukuba have shown that elderly adults that engage in brisk walking exercises maintain the ability to perform daily routines. 

Researchers wanted to determine whether functional disability could be linked with early death and the decline of bodily functions. They found that light to moderate exercises such as walking and other aerobic exercises improved mobility and staved off frailty. 

It was identified that elderly adults that could not comfortably walk more than 500m had a higher risk of functional disability. However, participants that engaged in brief daily exercises, were able to function better and more safely years later. 

The findings of the 2022 study (published in 2023), correlate with speculative research performed way back in 2002. In that study, the researchers noted that “the evidence that exercise can actually prevent disability in the long-term is not yet established by data from randomized clinical trials in the general population.” 

Twenty years later, we finally got the answer. Yes, it does.

How does walking reduce the risk of functional disability? 

A 2019 study found that engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for just one hour a week – less than 10 minutes a day – enabled elderly adults to function safely and lower the risk of activities such as crossing the road and getting dressed without falling over. 

When researchers followed up with more than 1,500 participants four years later, 24% of adults who confirmed they had not been performing their weekly hour of brisk physical activity were walking too slowly to safely cross the street. A further 23 per cent reported problems performing their morning routine.

Epidemiologic studies show that functional disability is inversely related to physical activity – not necessarily exercise but any type of physical activity like cleaning the house or tending to the garden. Physical activity helps to maintain muscle strength and balance as we age. 

Various studies show that exercise prescriptions lower functional limitations. Doctors are encouraged to advise patients of all ages about the pervading health benefits of exercises such as walking

Moreover, it is hoped that these studies influence policymakers to build cities that facilitate grocery shopping and social visits on foot. The £200m funding for active travel in the UK is a good start. 

Download the Sweatcoin App

Sweatcoin promotes technology for good and wants to encourage more people to engage in walking exercises – no matter what your age. 

We’ve created an app with a built-in pedometer which you can download directly to your mobile phone. But not only that, the pedometer counts your steps and converts them into digital tokens. 

For every 1000 steps you make, you will earn 1SWC to spend with over 300 retailers that we’ve partnered with. Download the Sweatcoin app today and take a look at the amazing deals you have access to. How far do you need to walk to buy the goods you are most interested in? 

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