You have probably heard plenty of advice on maintaining heart health over the years. But it becomes even more important once you enter retirement. Aging bodies lose muscle mass and vascular elasticity. Both of these typical developments can contribute to more strain on your heart. However, with a few lifestyle tweaks, you can keep your ticker in top shape, no matter the years! Read on for suggestions you can put into action today.
1. Cut back on the salt
Salt is a significant contributor to high blood pressure, which leads to a whole host of problems, not limited to heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. If you have elevated blood pressure, you really must cut your salt intake down significantly. The two quickest ways to do this are cutting processed foods and cooking without salt.
Processed foods are a huge source of added salt in the American diet. Focus on whole, fresh foods and stop buying anything that comes in a box or a bag. By doing this, you will have already cut about 70% of your salt intake.
The next step is to stop using salt in your cooking. Substitute with plenty of fresh and dried herbs, pungent garlic and onions, earthy mushrooms, and spicy peppers. Here’s a great trick: vinegar registers as salty on the palate and provides a punch of flavor! Flavors like balsamic, red wine, and fruity fig offer dimension to everything from salads to main courses. It takes approximately one to two weeks for your tastebuds to adjust to less salt, so give yourself time to get used to it.
2. Make daily movement a priority
The type of exercise that you do matters much less than consistently doing it. A daily walking or swimming regimen is perfect for older adults. The main point is not to become sedentary and sit for lengthy periods. Just moving around in your living space and keeping up with light housework every day is good.
If possible, partner up with someone else looking for some extra movement. Socializing will pass the time much faster and give you something to look forward to while you’re working out.
3. Know what moderation looks like
Alcohol, in particular, wine, has been featured in several diets as a heart health booster. However, moderate drinking is far less than what most Americans imagine when they pour themselves a glass. A moderate pour is only four ounces, and a standard pour is five ounces. Think of a paper dixie cup. You know, the kind we use in the bathroom to rinse after brushing? That’s about the right size. No more than one of those per day if you’re a woman or two if you’re a man. Any more than that on a regular basis and you will be doing more harm than good when it comes to your heart.
4. Keep a regular sleep schedule
Sleep needs diminish slightly after the age of 65. Seven to eight hours a night is adequate to keep you well-rested. If you find that the amount or quality of your sleep differs from night-to-night, you’ll want to put yourself on a consistent schedule. Start by waking up at the same time every morning consistently and then work on setting a bedtime. It helps if you’re tired too – don’t forget that exercise we mentioned!
5. Reconsider your doctor
Make sure that you have received all of the necessary screenings and tests for your age range and health status. If you don’t currently see a Geriatric specialist, you may want to consider switching from your internist or general practitioner. Geriatricians specialize in older adults and may more readily recognize and address the standard issues facing today’s seniors.