Approximately 75 percent of people over 60 have cardiovascular disease, and the risk only increases with age. We all know we need to take care of our hearts, but it’s often easier said than done. Exercise is a key component of a healthy heart, but it can be difficult to find the time, and for older adults, it can feel like a big barrier to entry. In this article, we’ll go over the impact of exercise on heart health as well as a few easy ways to start.
The Impact of Aerobic Exercise for Your Heart
Your heart is like any other muscle—it gets stronger the most your use it. When you exercise, your breath and heart rate increase and pump oxygen and blood to your muscles, which helps your heart get stronger, work more efficiently, and pump more blood.
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise, like running, biking, or a brisk walk, can also help open up other blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, which is a big risk factor for heart disease. Exercise can also lead to weight loss, which can help your heart not have to work as hard because there is less tissue to supply blood to.
How To Start Exercising
If you aren’t already exercising regularly, it can feel really hard and scary to know how to start. As a senior, you may have joint issues or other issues that can make exercise difficult. If you aren’t already exercising, don’t expect to get up and run a mile one day. Instead, focus on how to get more physical activity into your daily routine. Even activities like gardening, cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn (with a push mower) count as physical activity and can help your heart. If you’re still not getting enough exercise (150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise is recommended), you can look at adding in lower intensity exercises. Think a brisk walk with a friend around the neighborhood or mall, swimming, or yoga or tai chi. Many gyms also offer Silver Sneaker classes, which are geared specifically towards seniors, and SCOA offers several exercise classes for seniors each month. No matter your age or current activity level, it’s never too late to start exercising and strengthen your heart!