Just one hour of walking a week can boost mobility as you age

Science has revealed how older adults can benefit from checking off 60 minutes of exercise per week

Older couple enjoying a walk
(Image credit: Getty)

Exercise isn't all about looking good, it's about feeling strong and able, and working towards the latter can greatly impact how well you age. Research has revealed, completing just under 60 minutes of exercise a week can prevent age-related issues for adults, and help you to maintain independence the older you get.

Fortunately, you don't have to push yourself to uncomfortable levels of exertion or risk of injury to improve your fitness abilities. Little aches and niggles can get in the way of being able to complete long and enduring forms of exercise. While you can take one of the best supplements for joints to help relieve some pain, your future self can also benefit from fitting in short bursts of exercise to your weekly schedule.

Amidst varying advice on what exercise older adults should and shouldn't do, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has whittled things down and the good news is, the advice sounds pretty manageable, and can lead to positive outcomes for aging adults.

The scientists conducting the research wanted to identify evidence-based thresholds required for adults to maintain mobility and avoid age-related disabilities later in life. This just means they wanted to find out how much exercise and to what level of intensity is required to optimize adults lives as they grow older.

Older man walking along the beach

(Image credit: Getty)

Researchers recruited 1,564 adults over the age of 49 who were at an increased disability risk due to lower extremity (the area of body between your hip and toes) joint symptoms. 

After looking at varying levels of physical activity intensities and durations, researchers concluded that completing an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a week can significantly increase the quality of life for older adults. The researchers referred to this as creating a 'disability-free status', meaning the exercise helped avoid things like mobility issues. 

In the conclusion of the study the authors wrote, "This minimum threshold tied to maintaining independent living abilities has value as an intermediate goal to motivate adults to take action towards the many health benefits of a physically active lifestyle."

The great thing about the findings is that this measure of exercise time can equate to just 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous walking a day. It's worthwhile investing in a pair of the best shoes for walking to ensure your feet are well-protected. However, indoor walking might appeal to you more which is possible if you have access to one of the best treadmills from our guide.

But if walking doesn't excite you, there are plenty of other ways to fit in short bursts of moderate to higher intensity workouts, without putting your joints at risk of pain or injury. For example this 12-minute low-impact workout you can do at home without making any noise and it will help you burn fat.

You will also find that muscle mass begins to decline with aging. Ensuring you eat plenty of protein-rich foods like eggs, lean meats, salmon, lentils, and peanuts will help your body to grow and repair muscle. You can even add one of the best protein powders for women to something like a smoothie if you feel your diet doesn't include enough protein in it.

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.