The very act of getting stronger involves stressing our muscles. It's during recovery that we see the gains of strength training. Likewise, weight-bearing exercises ranging from running to aerobics to golf (sans cart) develop lean body mass.
Walking is often considered the perfect weight-bearing exercise for older adults, for a number of reasons. It's convenient and requires little investment other than time. Walking targets the large muscle groups of the lower body, including the calves, thighs, hamstrings, hips and gluteus maximus, says Mark Fenton, author of "The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss, and Fitness."
Further, you can break your sessions up into smaller increments, such as three 10-minute walks each day, and get the same benefit. "The real beauty of it, though, is that walking is the do anywhere, anytime, no-instruction-needed exercise," Fenton says.
Too boring? Try golf or dancing. Golf (provided you pass on the motorized cart) gives you all the advantages of walking, but adds the extra element of an upper body workout. Dancing, meanwhile, works your legs and posture while introducing balance into the fitness equation (more on that later).
Our muscles, though, are just a start. Find out why a weight-bearing routine is good for our bones.