Think 150. That is the number of minutes of weekly exercise activity recommended for seniors by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Most people are aware that as we age, there is an increased risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or developing coronary heart disease, yet there are choices you can make at any age to keep your heart healthy.
Avoiding damage to the heart begins with more physical activity, according to the NIH. Whatever your age or physical condition, there are options you can choose to exercise a little each day.
Sitting still all day is the worst thing to do if you want to make your heart healthier. Yet many of us do not know what kind of exercise is best for us. While you may be tired and feel as if you cannot fit in exercise in your life, you should know that exercise has the opposite effect on the body. Doing any exercise for 150 minutes a week will energize you. Once you decide to become more active, you can choose from a variety of exercises to help your heart.
The National Institute on Aging recommends trying to do one or more of the following types of exercise based on your current health:
- Endurance: these activities increase your breathing and heart rate and include walking, rolling in a wheelchair, gardening, biking, or swimming.
- Strength: these activities improve muscle tone and include chair exercises where you focus on your upper and lower body, wall push exercises, handgrip, and leg lift exercises.
- Balance: these options include doing a balance walk and tai chi.
- Flexibility: these exercises help to avoid muscle pain injuries and include yoga, calf stretch exercise, chair exercises on your lower back, and areas like the ankles.
In choosing the right exercise plan for you, the National Institute on Aging recommends you consult your doctor before trying any of the four types of exercise. Although these exercises include low impact activities, it is best to make sure you are physically fit enough to do all of the suggested activities. For more information on endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises, please visit the Go4Life page from the National Institute of Health at www.go4life.nia.nih.gov/exercises.
Exercise is just one part of the process of keeping the heart-healthy. What you eat matters too. As we get older, it is worth learning more about healthy eating. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends the heart-healthy selections below:
- Substantial red, orange, green vegetables, and fruits.
- Whole grain foods with a high percentage of grain or wheat.
- Dairy such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Protein such as beef, chicken, turkey, pork, as well as different types of seafood.
- Desserts like baked apples and cinnamon for dessert.
To keep your heart healthy, try to exercise 150 minutes or more a week and choose foods that support good cardiovascular health.