The secret to success: Take it easy

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Tim Mullaney
Tim Mullaney

Attention all strivers and overachievers. You should slow down and not push yourself too hard, two new studies suggest.

One of the studies showed that walking might be better for you than running. Researchers compared self-reported health outcomes of 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers over a six-year period. Participants were mostly in their 40s and 50s, but were as old as 80.

Running reduced the risk of a first-time hypertension diagnosis 4.2%, while briskly walking the same distances reduced the risk 7.2%, the researchers found. And walking beat running as way to reduce coronary heart disease risk, as well. Running reduced the risk 4.5%, and walking reduced it 9.3%.

Granted, runners may cover more ground than walkers when they hit the trails, boosting the effectiveness of their exercise sessions. But if you walk as far as you would run, you'll be even better off, this research suggests. This is good news for seniors who need to do a lower impact workout, and for people like me. You say “jogging,” I hear “torture.”

The other study is even more pertinent to long-term care. It showed that seniors' cognitive abilities improve from doing activities regularly, no matter how strenuous those activities are.

For this study, researchers divided seniors into different groups and had them perform various exercises and mentally stimulating activities. Some seniors did more strenuous or challenging things, such as playing mentally challenging video games, while others did easier activities, such as watching an educational DVD. After three months of doing these activities for three days a week, all the participants showed similar improvements in their thinking and memory.

With the weather warming up and a new quarter starting for many businesses, people are no doubt making springtime resolutions to get in shape and tackle ambitious projects. If you're one of these people, good luck.

But you might want to walk rather than run, literally and metaphorically. The payoff might be just as great, and the journey much more pleasant.

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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.

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