Austin Walking Group Steps Toward Good Health

Posted on 02/07/20 by Morgan Dubose

Good things come to those who sweat -- specifically, to those who walk.

Committing to walking offers numerous advantages that other exercises don’t offer. Besides, you can reap these benefits even if you're only looking to walk your dog around Zilker Park.

Because walking is less vigorous than other exercises, you may need to walk for longer periods, or more often, to gain the benefits of this physical activity. However, a brisk, daily 30-minute walk comes with plenty of health benefits, both mental and physical.

Improves Memory

The hippocampus begins to shrink as we age, leading to impaired memory and an increased risk of dementia. Now, research has shown that walking can reverse the shrinkage and improve memory, validating a relationship between fitness and brain function. Seems like staying sharp comes one step at a time.

Reduces Stress

Walking—especially outdoors—stimulates the production of stress-relieving endorphins. Researchers have found that exercise reduces the risk for depression. Some also suggest that a short walk may be just as good as a long workout for relieving symptoms of anxiety.

Promotes Heart Health

According to some studies, walking leads to a reduced risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In 2019, Consumer Reports found that people living in more walkable neighborhoods had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s great news for Austin residents and a good excuse to lace up your shoes and head on out to Ladybird Lake.

Just because walking is a workout doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Turn this exercise into an enjoyable social occasion by walking with others. Grab a pal, a good pair of shoes and join AARP on the trail to a healthier life.

Walking Toward 10K with AARP Texas

Make walking your new habit by joining AARP Texas in a free, eight-week “Walking as Practice" training program in Austin. Starting Feb.11, and culminating in a group 10K walk on April 5, the program includes weekly in-person walking sessions along with online coaching.

Registration for the program has reached capacity. But if you'd like more details, reach out to us with an email at: aarptx@aarp.org.

Leading the walking initiative is AARP Texas’ Jessica Lemann, associate state director of outreach and advocacy. Lemann has coordinated AARP walking groups in the past. However, “this will be our first session with a goal of walking a 10K,” she said.

“We have set up an AARP Texas Team at the annual Capital 10K, and our hope is that participants will register and join our team to culminate in their training,” said Lemann.

Participants will meet at a well-known walking trail in central Austin once a week for eight weeks. The program’s focus will be centered on endurance, form, strengthening and stretching practices led by a certified personal trainer and walking coach.

Aside from demonstrating proper walking techniques, these trainings have a greater purpose. Lemann intends for the trainees to become aware of the walkability in their city. “Empowering people to walk more in their own neighborhoods and become their own advocates for being able to do that safely, is the end goal.”

All ages and fitness levels are welcome. Again, though the program has reached capacity, if you're interested, reach out to us by email at aarptx@aarp.org.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus.

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