Heart disease affects over one in three Americans, including 85% of people over the age of 80. As we age, it is crucial to take control of heart health in order to decrease the risk of heart disease. Exercise as we age is crucial in order to decrease our risk of heart disease, particularly for women. Exercise decreases the risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and helps weight control.
Heart Health Benefits of Exercise
A good exercise program can also help decrease fatigue and shortness of breath. This will enable one to maintain their activities of daily living and the sports that they enjoy. So not only does exercise decrease the risk of heart disease, it improves quality of life. Of course, age related heart changes may still occur, such as arrhythmias, lipid profile changes, and insulin sensitivity, but these can be delayed or sometimes prevented by staying active. Lastly, exercise helps to reduce stress which is correlated to heart issues.
A great place to start is with a walking program, or any gentle aerobic exercise that increases the heart rate. If there are no orthopedic issues or other health issues, it is fine to add jogging, hiking, and aerobic exercise classes.
Strength Training for a Healthy Heart
Resistance training also has heart healthy benefits. It increases blood flow and may lead to longer lasting blood pressure control. It helps to increase muscle mass which will help in weight control. The resistance or strength training program should include exercises that strengthen every major muscle group. This would include, squats, lunges, leg lifts, planks, push ups and numerous core strengthening exercises