What’s the most important valentine of all? Your own heart! That’s why we celebrate February as American Heart Month. It’s a tradition seniors can easily get behind, because heart disease is America’s #1 killer.
So what’s the best gift to give your heart this February? Medical experts at Johns Hopkins say “pairing exercise with a Mediterranean-style diet, maintaining a normal weight and not smoking” can help you live longer (and healthier), reducing risk of death from all causes by 80%.
Exercise Feeds Your Body, Mind and Spirit
Regular exercise helps:.
- Lower blood pressure
- Strengthen muscles
- Control weight
- Slow or even stop development of diabetes
- Reduce stress
- Reduce inflammation
- Quit smoking (which contributes to numerous serious health problems)
While exercising is even more important for seniors who want to stay as sharp and healthy as possible, older adults often have arthritis or other mobility or endurance challenges. The good news is that exercise can help alleviate or prevent common problems by:
- Improving balance, which reduces risk of falls
- Maintaining independent ability to handle activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and walking
- Boosting your energy and mood, by releasing endorphins
- Preventing or reducing the effects of not only heart disease but diabetes, depression and osteoporosis
Regular exercise can even cut your risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s, by almost 50 percent!
So Let’s Get Busy
The idea is to make your body work without overdoing it, so you want to choose activities that appeal to you and are also appropriate for your physical capabilities. Here are some popular choices that experts agree are especially good for seniors.
If standing or balance is a problem, chair yoga is the answer. It’s low-impact but can work your body and relieve stress, so you can not only get stronger but sleep better.
The 10,000 steps a day recommended for younger adults may be a bit out of reach these days, but walking is good for you no matter what your distance or speed goal. It helps build strength and improve balance, but it also improves heart health and reduces risk of diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer.
Water provides buoyancy that helps support muscles and joints as you move, and it also provides resistance so your muscles get more of a workout. You can boost balance, flexibility, and strength.
These stretch rubber strips are inexpensive and perfect for in-home exercises that boost strength, balance, posture, and mobility.
Body weight exercises
Another good in-home option, these exercises require only a mat (or perhaps a cushy carpet) or perhaps a prop such as a chair, because you’re using your own weight to provide muscle-building resistance.
Dumbbells, little bells, or other small hand-held weights come in a wide range of weights from very light to quite heavy, so you can start with something easy and increase in difficulty as you build muscle strength. This is especially important for seniors, who often suffer from marked loss of muscle mass. Strength training also helps reduce back pain, depression, osteoporosis and diabetes symptoms because it boosts metabolism.
Love to dance? No one’s watching, so why not channel your inner Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers to give your heart the workout it needs?
No Excuses, Now
Exercising regularly, in whatever ways you can, will benefit your heart. That’s true even if you have an existing cardiac condition. Check with your doctor if you aren’t sure which types of exercises are best for you, then celebrate American Heart Month by stepping up your fitness routine this year.
Senior Exercise at Magnolia Manor
Our campuses offer a variety of ways for residents to nourish their mind, body, and soul. We have regularly scheduled activities and wellness programs suitable for all abilities. Some of our communities even have swimming pools for those who enjoy a full body workout. If you'd like to learn more about Senior Living at Magnolia Manor, feel free to contact us at 855-540-5433.