Walking for exercise is considered to be the most positive and natural sleep aid for the over 50’s. This is so, particularly if taken at the right time of day. But before we go into details about why walking is so effective, we should first look at both the definition and the main causes of the problem, which is of course insomnia.
Without going into all the medical jargon, this condition is basically a symptom, not an illness, that either prevents someone falling into a restful sleep, or allows them to remain in sleep long enough to provide effective rest. The main causes of insomnia as reported by doctors are:
- Drinking large quantities of alcohol in the evening
- Emotional problems
- Physical disorders
Research has also shown that another common reason for insomnia is quite simply lack of fatigue. As a race, we are just not active enough in modern times to induce the sleep our bodies need to recharge.
Insomnia is not an age related disorder. Anyone of any age, from the very young to the elderly can experience difficulties when trying to fall asleep. Studies have shown that about 10% of the adult population suffer from chronic, or regular bouts.
Walking as a means of exercise affects the body in so many positive ways, and all without the need for special equipment or premises. It therefore has to be the most natural way for helping to alleviate sleep related problems. Regular walking will tire the body to ensure a natural fatigue, which will be addressed by the brain by seeking to get appropriate rest, thus making you sleepy.
However, as already mentioned, the timing of exercise is very important. Walking for exercise not only tires the body, but it can also stimulate the brain and heart, which is not what you want just before bedtime! So if you can, chose a time during the afternoon that is convenient, and try to keep the same time free every day.
A person’s emotional state is also greatly improved through exercise. Insomnia has it’s root causes, and anything that can be done to tackle the cause, has to have a bearing on the symptom. Activity is shown to improve feelings of confidence and sense of well-being through the release of natural endorphins that are produced when we take exercise.
So not only does the body get tired, but the mind is cleared of stress and worries, which again aids sleep. Quite simply, anyone who is regularly active will most certainly sleep deeper and awake less often, if at all through the night.
One final positive point to make about walking for exercise, is that the body loves routine. So if you are building a regular walk into your day, you may find that everything else you do will tend to fall into a routine also. This is especially true for going to bed and getting up in the morning.
So, as you get older, the trend should be to go to bed and get up early, even at the weekends. And there’s nothing like a good walk in the early morning sunshine to start the day off well!
Source by Steve L Thompson