Since February is American Heart Month, we are highlighting several ways to help prevent heart disease. One way to get started is by making healthy choices, such as engaging in a variety of exercise options.
Exercise can pay off at any phase of life, and that is never truer than in your retirement years. Incorporating movement into your routine can lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, lower blood pressure, stronger bones, better balance, improved memory, better mental health and a reduced risk of some types of cancer.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers these guidelines for physical activity in all adults:
- Some physical activity is better than none, of course, but for best results, adults should aim for 2.5 to 5 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. A combination of the two is good, and best results will come if these activities are spread out throughout the week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups should be added at least twice a week.
For older adults, the CDC suggests adding balance training exercises as well, and recommends that they consider any chronic conditions that they have when deciding what activities to try.
Don’t be afraid to start small, even a 5 minute walk is worth it. Aim to move up to 10 minutes next and before you know it, you’ll be going further than ever!
The American Heart Association (AHA) offers these suggestions of moderate-intensity activities:
- Brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour)
- Water aerobics
- Dancing (ballroom or social)
- Tennis (doubles)
- Biking slower than 10 miles per hour
Vigorous intensity activities are ones that push you a little more. They will probably make you sweaty and a little short of breath. Work up to these! Examples of vigorous activities from the AHA include:
- Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
- Swimming laps
- Aerobic dancing
- Heavy yardwork like continuous digging or hoeing
- Tennis (singles)
- Cycling 10 miles per hour or faster
- Jumping rope
Muscle-strengthening activities are important in your older years to help you have strong bones, good balance and better overall strength! Here are a few ways the AHA suggests to get those activities in:
- Using exercise bands, weight machines, or hand-held weights
- Doing body-weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, planks, squats or lunges)
- Digging, lifting and carrying items as part of gardening
- Carrying groceries
- Trying some yoga postures
Consider doing these types of exercises until your muscles feel like they cannot do another repetition, and increase your weight or other resistance gradually over time, the AHA recommends.
Judson offers a variety of health and wellness opportunities to residents, community members, and associates including strength training, land and water exercise classes, as well as pre-habilitation.