Walking a little farther and a little faster has heart benefits for older adults.
Seniors who go the extra blocks and pick up the pace while walking greatly reduce the risk of heart-related health complications. We’ve always known that walking and physical activity are good for us, but new research shows the astounding benefits for adults later in life.
A study in The American Heart Association journal Circulation showed seniors who walked faster than 3 mph had a 50 percent reduced risk of heart disease compared with those who walked slower than 2 mph. And seniors who walked seven blocks per week cut their risk of developing heart-related ailments nearly in half compared with those who walked just five blocks.
We’ve compiled a list of short, easy jaunts around Nashville where seniors — or anyone else for that matter — can step up their game.
Radnor Lake State Natural Area
Easily accessible when heading south on Interstate 65, Radnor Lake offers quiet shoreline hikes resplendent with wildlife. Explore all of the park’s 6 miles of trails over time. For an easy walk, take the Dam Walkway in and out (.44 miles). It’s reachable from the Walter Criley Visitor Center parking lot, where you can pick up a trail map for future adventures.
Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park
Shelby Bottoms in East Nashville provides 5 miles of flat paved trails and another 5 of flat primitive trails. The trailhead at the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center offers a mile-long paved loop with a spot to rest overlooking the Cumberland River. Markers denote quarter-miles. Other options include the Forrest Green trailhead, which also has a mile-long loop. Or head to the beautiful Cornelia Fort Airpark (2640 Airpark Drive) and walk portions of the runway; a loop is just over a mile, but you can shortcut the route.
Centennial Park’s mile-long walking trail takes you around the Parthenon (Nashville’s full-scale replica), manicured expanses of lawn, a sunken garden and Lake Watauga. Located on West End Avenue, the park is an urban green space wonderland for logging a stroll. Just be mindful of bandshell shows and other park events when parking might become difficult.
Parks Community Centers
Nashville’s Metro Parks and Recreation has many regional Community Centers with free indoor walking tracks. Check out this list to see if a center near you has one.
Need something to do after your heart-healthy walk? Pick up a book to keep your mind sharp at any age.