February is American Heart Month, but cardiovascular health is important year round. Here are some ways seniors can help keep their hearts healthy throughout the year.
Perhaps the only “magic bullet” for heart health is regular exercise. Cardio workouts like running can often help mitigate risk factors related to your cardiovascular system. That being said, even people who are active can experience heart woes, so check in with your doctor to get a report on your heart functionality and the all-clear before you engage in any new physical activity. Then, consider some of the options below.
Although good for you, running is hard on the joints and causes stress to your body. Exercises like biking provide a very similar workout to running but are less demanding on your joints. If you already own a bike, a 30-minute workout three days a week can do a lot to improve your health, athleticism and sleep.
Doing lunges can also be a great cardio and strength-building workout that doesn't require any equipment. Performing lunges is simple, but do take precautions to support your balance if necessary.
You can get some step-by-step instructions for lunges from Greatist.com. The article also has instructions for a number of other exercises if you want to expand your workout in your assisted living apartment. Just remember to choose exercises that work for you and are appropriate for your mobility and fitness level.
If you have access to a pool, swimming laps offers excellent cardio. This exercise is fairly easy on your body, similar to biking, yet it works several muscle groups. If you don’t swim much, just swim a few laps and take breaks in between and increase your lap count as you get more experience.
If you don’t want to swim, you might try water polo or water aerobics instead. Water exercise can be excellent cardio and the resistance of the water helps build your strength and endurance. It’s also good for flexibility, body toning and weight loss.
Outdoor lovers may want to get some exercise by going on a quaint walk. Springfield, MO, is speckled with parks, and The Gardens assisted living community is within walking distance of several, including Stanford Park and Nathanael Greene Park.
If you like hiking, Springfield is nestled near the Ozark Mountains, so plenty of trails exist for those who want to get a little more intense workout. The Ozark Greenway is located near Springfield and is a milder, easy climb even for those without much hiking experience. Another option is the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, which has beautiful views and foliage to enjoy as you exercise.
One of the subtle choices that can make a difference is the decision to use the stairs. Stair-climbing is good cardio, and if you don’t have a dedicated machine for stair-climbing, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator can work wonders to keep your body functioning well.
Although inconvenient, taking the stairs can foster stronger muscles, bones and joints and also encourages weight loss. According to Duke University, climbing even two flights of stairs a day can lead to up to six pounds of weight loss a year. For more info on the benefits of stairs, click here.
The food you eat is one of your major sources of daily energy (sleeping is the other). Inserting heart-healthy foods into your diet can give you the energy you need, but it also helps promote heart health. There are a multitude of flavorful ingredients that are easy to work into your daily diet that give you the nutrients you need. Some include:
• Leafy green vegetables
• Dark chocolate
• Olive oil
• Green tea
• Fatty fish and fish oil
Substituting olive oil for butter, adding guacamole to your taco or following dinner up with a square or two of dark chocolate are excellent ways to work cardio-friendly foods into your meals without changing your diet much. For seafood lovers, fatty fish like salmon, trout and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3, a powerful chemical that can help improve heart, lung and brain health.
It should be no surprise that one's internal world can have a massive effect on their external experiences and health. Expert studies from Harvard Health confirm that a positive mindset can significantly lower one's risk of heart disease compared to the risks for those who are regularly downcast.
Surrounding yourself with people that care about you, uplift you and can make you laugh can change the way your body functions. This blog discusses the power of laughter on one's health and how laughter can suppress pain, create a stronger sense of happiness and joy and even improve cognitive performance.
Taking care of yourself doesn't have to be difficult, boring work. Simply commit to spreading laughter, joy and positivity to others and seek out people who do the same for you.