Heart health has probably been on your mind for a while now, but if it hasn’t, it’s never too late! Seniors over the age of 65 are more likely to have heart problems, and the risk of heart attack and stroke increases as you get older. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to improve heart health at any age! Let’s explore how to improve heart health, even in your later years.
If you become sedentary as you get older, your heart muscle can weaken and stiffen over time. Staying active helps combat this. Exercise doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating. Walking, swimming, yoga, golf, and senior group fitness classes are low impact and easy to begin. Here are the 6 best exercises for seniors and how to get started with fitness for older adults. Don’t forget to check out your Senior Living Community’s calendar for walking groups and workout classes for seniors like you. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week for adults, which is about 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Eat Fresh, Whole Foods
Aim to eat a wide variety of fresh, whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, chicken, fish, and nuts. Highly processed foods, like candy, chips, and other things you might find on the shelves of a convenience store or gas station, are often high in sodium, trans fat, and added sugar. Eating lots of these things and few fresh foods can increase your blood pressure and decrease your heart health. You don’t need to give up any foods that you love or remove anything from your diet. Instead, just try to include a fruit or veggie and protein (like chicken, fish, yogurt, or nuts) to each meal or snack.
Don’t Smoke, Vape, or Chew Tobacco
Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. Tobacco use damages your blood vessels, increases your risk for heart attack and stroke, and causes one in four deaths from heart disease. Long exposure to breathing secondhand smoke can also cause coronary disease or stroke. If you currently smoke, vape, or chew tobacco, there are many resources for quitting. Check out some of the CDC’s resources here.
Manage Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Work with your doctor to avoid high blood pressure or cholesterol, which can cause or contribute to heart disease. There are many lifestyle changes you can make, like eating a nutritious diet, being active, and quitting smoking. However, some people have naturally high blood pressure or cholesterol, and may need or benefit from medication. Some doctors may suggest losing weight will help with blood pressure and cholesterol. However, it is important to realize that thin people can also have high cholesterol and often these conditions are hereditary or genetic, not caused by weight. In these cases, losing weight isn’t likely to make a difference, especially in your senior years. Lifestyle changes and medications are enough to manage most people’s cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Don’t be a passive victim of heart problems and heart disease! Try these tips today to start improving your heart health at any age.