Maintain Your Health and Agility With Our Top 12 Heart-Healthy Activities for Seniors
Aging gracefully isn’t always as easy as some make it seem, it often comes with health concerns that we may not have considered in our younger years.
As we age, we are at a greater risk of health problems such as heart disease and heart failure — but no matter what age you are, it’s never too late to improve your heart health.
Curious about what you, or your loved one, can do to maintain a healthy heart?
In this guide, we’re providing 12 heart-healthy activities and habits for seniors and how Senior Services of America can help you manage a healthy, active lifestyle.
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When it comes to your health it is never too late to strengthen your heart. Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, and staying active, can help prevent your heart from weakening as quickly over time.
Just like with other muscles of the body, it is possible to reverse some of the effects of aging and strengthen our hearts by doing heart-healthy exercises.
But there are some things that seniors should keep in mind — especially if you’re looking for heart-healthy exercises — most importantly: starting slow.
Keeping your body moving as you age doesn’t have to be a difficult or daunting task. Heart-healthy exercises can be done whether you’re slowing down in your 60’s or vivacious and active in your 80’s.
No matter what age, staying active can help you live longer and decrease the risks of heart disease.
Unsure of what exercises might be best for you or your loved one’s unique needs? Below we’re listing some of the most beneficial heart-healthy activities to keep you moving.
Swimming and other water activities are some of the most beneficial activities for your heart. This is because water activities improve:
The amount of blood that is pumped out of the heart per minute
How your body uses oxygen
Whether you’ve had a major life event that’s affected your heart like a heart attack, or have a heart arrhythmia, water activities are a great way to start small, and slowly become more active, while focusing on your heart health.
Some common heart-healthy water activities include the following:
#1: Water Aerobics
Looking for a low-impact water activity? Water aerobics improves:
Blood circulation problems
The wonderful thing about water aerobics, especially as a heart-healthy activity for seniors, is that it is not limited to any skill set aside from it being a low-impact activity.
It provides seniors with a way to build:
Strength in muscles with the gentle resistance of the water
A sense of accomplishment after every class; and
Confidence in themselves to continue to stay active during retirement
#2: Lap Swimming
Maybe you’re someone who wants to continue doing heart-healthy workouts, but your joints ache every time you try to get a good session in.
Swimming laps is an excellent heart-healthy activity for seniors because it combines segments of three different activities including:
Aside from maintaining and possibly improving heart health, lap swimming may also prevent injuries and falls, burn calories and improve brain function in seniors.
#3: Paddle Boarding
Are you someone who’s constantly looking for a new activity to take part in? Want something that’s a little more “adventurous” but still beneficial to your heart health?
Paddle boarding might be the perfect activity for you to take up.
Paddle boarding is a low-impact cardio activity that can not only improve your heart health and strengthen other muscles of the body, but it can restore balance and boost your spirits!
#1: Weight Lifting
Cardio isn’t everyone’s favorite activity, and the good news is, it’s not the only activity that’s good for your heart. Weight lifting is one of the many heart-healthy activities for seniors that doesn’t involve tons of cardio.
It’s been proven that properly using weight training can help you strengthen your heart.
Strength training exercises increase lean muscle mass throughout the body, giving your cardiovascular system places to send blood that is being pumped — reducing the pressure on your arteries — which helps reduce chances of heart-related problems and improves circulation throughout the body.
Weight training has been proven to lower the possibility of heart attacks and strokes.
#2: Group Exercise Classes
Heart-healthy activities for seniors don’t have to be done alone. If you are looking for a way to socialize and reap the benefits of exercise, a group exercise class is a perfect solution.
Many senior living facilities, like Senior Services of America, offer a variety of group exercise classes and other health and wellness programs throughout the week that encourage community members to get involved and stay active.
Some of the most common heart-healthy group exercise classes include:
#3: Dance Classes
Dance classes are an amazing way to connect with other seniors and participate in heart-healthy activities. As an added bonus, dance classes allow participants to move at their own pace.
If you’re just getting back into being active, you can take it slow. If you’re someone looking for a more intense workout, you can step up your dance moves.
Whether you’re into the samba, working on your boot-scootin-boogie, or ready to get moving and grooving in your community’s Zumba class — you’ll reap the benefits of dance classes.
According to a recent study, moderate-intensity dancing can help lower your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
#1: Walking or Hiking
Moderate intensity walking or hiking outdoors not only decreases the chance of cardiovascular disease but also helps seniors engage the body and the mind.
Any sort of outdoor activity, like hiking or walking, can:
Help increase your heart rate
Work to improve cardiovascular health,
Lower levels of stress, and
Reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and stress in seniors.
Seniors looking for heart-healthy activities who also want to keep their independence and enjoy the outdoors may enjoy hiking areas near the communities they live in.
Some senior living facilities may even offer special events for community members to engage in the outdoors.
Maybe hiking isn’t your style, but you want to stimulate your heart and lungs and improve your circulation — cycling is a great way to do each of those things without overworking your body, no matter what age.
Cycling is a low-impact activity for seniors that causes less strain on muscles and tends to cause fewer injuries than other forms of exercise.
Plus, it’s a fun way to stay active, whether you choose to cycle around the community or take a trip downtown to coast down hills and explore the outdoors.
#3: Tennis or Pickleball
Tennis and pickleball are amazing heart-healthy games for seniors because, when played regularly, they can help the heart become stronger — mostly due to the great workout your heart receives during the game.
Seniors interested in competing with others in a sport may find that pickleball is an ideal activity because it doesn’t require as much movement as tennis, due to the smaller court.
According to a study done by the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology, older adults who play at least one hour of pickleball three days a week saw improved:
Cardio-respiratory fitness levels
Blood pressure, and
Movement related heart-healthy activities for seniors are essential, but some non-movement related activities are vital to:
Maintaining heart health
Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and
Improving your quality of life.
#1: Mindful Eating
One of the biggest heart-healthy activities for seniors that don’t involve movement involves mindful eating.
The saying typically rings true, “You are what you eat.”
It truly makes a difference what we put in our bodies as we age.
Eating a heart-healthy diet can not only help fight cardiovascular disease, but it can help you or your loved one:
Control blood sugar levels
Maintain a healthy weight
Control blood pressure, and
Reduce the risk of having a heart attack.
To help maintain heart health, seniors should be eating more:
Colorful fruits and vegetables
Healthy proteins — fatty fish are a great option because they are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D
Healthy fats — think avocados, raw nuts, olive oil
Low-fat dairy products
High fiber foods — foods made from whole grains
Take time to review your, or your loved one’s, diet to ensure there are plenty of low-calorie, vitamin-rich foods.
#2: Regular Sleep Schedule
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adequate sleep is a vital part of maintaining a healthy heart.
In fact, one study found that those who got less than six hours of sleep per night had a 20 percent higher chance of having a heart attack.
A regular sleep schedule helps the body restore and recharge, lowering the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. If you, or your loved one, is above the age of 65, seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal for your overall health.
#3: Decreased Tobacco and Alcohol Use
Studies suggest that recreational use of tobacco and alcohol can increase seniors' risks of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac problems earlier in life.
Even after age 60, it is possible to see the benefits of improved health when you decrease tobacco and alcohol usage.
Aside from improving the heart’s functions, seniors may also see increased cognitive function, lung function and may even prevent dementia from occurring.
Looking for a Senior Living Facility That Will Help Keep You Active and Healthy? Senior Services of America Can Help
Senior living often comes with a stigma of decreased independence and activity — at Senior Services of America communities, this is far from true.
Our facilities encourage seniors to stay active and have health and wellness programs in place to help keep you, or your loved one, active and healthy.
Our staff is here to help you, or your loved one, find heart-healthy activities and make health-conscious choices that not only improve their physical well-being but their mental well-being, too.
Find your nearest community today to learn more about our facilities and the range of amenities we have to offer.