Stay Active for a Healthy Heart
Posted on February 12th, 2016
Stay Active for a Healthy Heart
Finding the time and energy to squeeze physical activity into your day isn't always easy. But thinking about the health benefits of keeping active and considering some simple exercises that can fit into your daily routine may just give you the boost you need to get moving. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits of strengthening your heart and lowering blood pressure, exercise can increase flexibility, improve balance and help you relax.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity is essential for healthy aging. And while the CDC suggests that some activity is better than none at all, activity guidelines for adults of any age, including seniors age 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no limiting health conditions, include at least
2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as walking) every week plus some muscle-strengthening exercises.
To get moving, consider these low-impact physical activities, which can be done with a group or on your own. Be sure to consult your health care provider or fitness professional before starting any exercise program and consider any chronic conditions or mobility limitations.
Good news from the American Heart Association and a recent study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running! Walking can be done anywhere, doesn't require any equipment and is an activity that can easily be increased over time as you gain endurance. Don't be discouraged if you need to start slow. Warm up by first walking in place, then walk for ten minutes or so to get started. Stay hydrated and maintain good posture to keep your balance. Visit everybodywalk.org for additional walking tips and a starter walking plan from the American Diabetes Association.
The practice of yoga has been around for over 5,000 years and combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and relaxation. There are many different types of yoga, from hatha, which combines basic movements with breathing, to power, which includes high-intensity moves. Yoga and meditation can help slow your heart and breathing rates, thereby lowering your blood pressure. This makes it a great form of exercise if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes. And because there are so many variations of yoga and so many different poses, you can listen to your body and choose the ones that work best for you, based on your age, your fitness level and your overall health. WebMD explains that almost every yoga pose can be modified to accommodate physical conditions such as arthritis and limited mobility, and suggests these six yoga poses to get started, no matter what your age.
Strengthening your muscles helps tone your body. And when your body is leaner, your risk of heart disease is lower. It also gets your blood flowing and can help increase your overall endurance. In addition to these cardiac benefits, strength training has been shown to reduce the symptoms of many chronic ailments including arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain and depression. The CDC and Tufts University have developed a comprehensive program designed specifically for older adults called Growing Stronger which includes the benefits of strength training, goal setting tips, preparation and progression help, suggested exercises and more.
Remember to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercises or fitness program.
This article has been provided for educational purposes only and is based on the most reliable information available on the date of publication.
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