Year after year, the leading cause of death for people over the age of 65 is cardiovascular disease. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise can help reduce the risk and reverse the effects of the disease. In fact, exercise has been shown to reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular disease including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Exercise can reduce the risk of death by 33% in people suffering from heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for everyone – regardless of age. This can seem daunting for seniors who may have mobility or health limitations. However, it doesn’t have to be. Activities like walking, yoga, and even gardening are all ways to get your heart pumping and your body moving. Break your exercise sessions into small, manageable time frames each day.
Another great exercise to consider is strength training. More than just heavy lifting, it is now considered a crucial part of a heart-healthy lifestyle and an excellent way for seniors to stay fit and active. It’s never too late to start – and the benefits, especially for your heart, are plenty.
Strength training is good for your muscles and your heart.
After age 60, the natural loss of muscle mass rapidly increases. This can lead to less strength and flexibility, limited mobility, and consequently more serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Studies show that strength training at least twice a week reduces these risks. For seniors, strength training has been shown to help:
- Improve mobility
- Prevent broken bones
- Increase physical activity
- Lower weight
- Relieve arthritis pain
- Control glucose in people with type 2 diabetes
- Reduce depression
- Improve sleep
Strength training is also the perfect way for seniors to combine endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility into one workout. Adding resistance bands and hand-held weights to your routine is an effective way to maximize the benefits of physical activity and support good heart health.
February Is Heart Health Month. This month and going forward, commit to better heart health and longevity by moving more and adding strength training to your fitness routine. Remember to always consult with your physician before starting any new exercise regime.
McLean’s Boundless Wellness programming is based on seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, physical, intellectual, social, vocational, environmental, and spiritual. Our Boundless program publishes a brief monthly newsletter for the community; if you would like to be added to the email distribution list, please send an email to Kimberly.Wright@McLeanCare.org.