Keeping your heart healthy is important to prioritize throughout life, but especially so as we age. A major threat to senior health, heart disease is prevalent in the growing population of older adults due to a number of factors, including declining cognition, sleep quality, physical balance and strength.
How Does Exercise Help the Heart?
Cardiovascular activity is essential to reducing frailty, maintaining heart muscle and promoting overall strength. By boosting hearth health, seniors can improve their ability to function as well as manage and combat diseases.
Healthy Exercises for the Heart
Cardiovascular exercise has a variety of short-term and long-term benefits and is a key component of keeping your heart healthy. What are the benefits of cardiovascular exercise? Cardiovascular exercise can help lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, regulate weight or aid in weight loss and strengthen the immune system. Even more, you don’t need fancy equipment or access to a gym to incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your routine. Read on to discover a number of heart healthy exercises to do at home.
Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets blood pumping and large muscle groups working. They can help improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, regulate weight and strengthen the immune system. Examples of aerobic exercise include brisk walking, swimming and even gardening. Individuals should aim to complete 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. For seniors who worry about their ability to work out for extended periods, remember that aerobic exercise includes anything that increases a person’s heart rate from its resting levels. For caregivers who struggle to find time in the day for themselves, there are steps they can take to manage risk and keep heart healthy while caregiving.
According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training is one of the best exercises for fighting heart disease. It provides a spectrum of benefits, including weight control, increasing bone density, helping joints stay flexible and boosting flexibility and balance. Examples of strength training include lifting weights, using resistance bands or bodyweight resistance exercises, heavy gardening and yoga. Experts recommend completing strength training exercises at least two times per week for all major muscle groups — legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.
Stretching exercises are another component of overall heart health and should be incorporated into workout routines for older adults. Stretching helps improve flexibility and balance, stress relief, pain relief and prevention, and increases blood flow to muscles, including the heart. Examples of stretch movements include a seated butterfly stretch, overhead triceps stretch and reaching for your toes while in a standing position. Seniors should aim to incorporate 20 minutes of stretching exercises into their routine three times per week. Stretching might not feel like exercise, but it counts toward keeping the heart and vascular system healthy!
Consult a Doctor Before Practicing Healthy Exercises for the Heart
It is recommended that seniors consult a medical professional before beginning a new workout program to ensure it’s safe and beneficial for their unique needs. A doctor can best tailor exercise quantity recommendations and highlight what exercises seniors should avoid. While heart health is important, it can be overdone if an individual is not careful.