Every February, American Heart Month raises awareness about the importance of maintaining cardiovascular health. Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services is reminding all the independent seniors in Virginia, however, that taking care of your heart isn’t just a one-month project – it’s a year-round endeavor!
Whether you’re looking to tighten up an already heart-healthy routine, or need ideas for how to start one, read on. The three Seniors Helping Seniors® tips that follow are changes you can make today to live your best tomorrow!
Whenever possible, get moving – it’s the best path to a healthy heart! Experts suggest at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day to protect your ticker and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.
So, grab a friend, family member, or a Seniors Helping Seniors® caregiver and start working the following activities into your routine to build cardiovascular endurance, keeping your heart and body strong!
- Weight training is a triple threat – it builds muscle, regulates weight, AND strengthens the heart! Start small, though, and gradually work up to heavier amounts to protect from muscle strain.
- Cardio improves blood flow and circulation around the heart, which is key to keeping the small vessels surrounding it clear of blockages. Aerobic exercises come in many forms – walking, biking, dancing, swimming – as long as the blood’s pumping, your body is reaping the benefits!
- Yoga involves deep breathing to reduce stress, another fantastic way to keep your ticker functioning well! In addition to lowering stress – a leading cause of heart disease - practicing yoga can decrease and regulate heart rate and boost circulation.
Adjust to Keep Active, and not Just During American Heart Month
With the Northeast winter in full swing, training outdoors probably won’t be an option for another month or two. Luckily, most of the exercises above are usually done at the gym or a fitness studio. For the days you don’t feel like leaving home, however, simply adapt your routine. For example, do laps in your house for cardio or invest in a couple senior-focused weight-training or yoga apps. The important thing is to keep moving – your heart will thank you! After all that movement, you'll want to make sure you get enough sleep, as well.
Reminder: Everyone has different physical needs and capabilities, so always consult a trainer and/or your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.
Dig In to a Heart-Smart Diet
Being physically active is only one aspect of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Eating well is another significant piece of the puzzle.
Add the following to your regular diet – all are good sources of heart-healthy vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, and healthy fats, which are important in lowering cholesterol, regulating blood pressure, and minimizing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains -- avoid refined grain products whenever possible
- Lean meat, poultry, and fish (especially salmon and mackerel)
- Low-fat dairy products and eggs
- Legumes, like beans, peas, and lentils – all make excellent substitutes for protein
- Green tea
Make Good Choices
Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. Instead, choose olive, canola, or vegetable oil and use margarine rather than butter. Watch salt intake as well – too much can lead to high blood pressure, which is tough on the heart.
Many areas in the Virginia cook with plenty of cheese, butter, and cream, which can be high in cholesterol and unhealthy fats. Avoid eating too many of these ingredients and, whenever possible, choose dishes that are grilled, steamed, or baked – these preparations are typically healthier and better for your ticker. Controlling portion size is important as well, as overeating packs in more calories than needed and can contribute to heart disease.
Need some help getting started? Seniors Helping Seniors® caregivers can assist with planning meals, finding healthy options at the grocery store, and offering personal knowledge and experience when trying different cooking methods. After all, new ventures are always more fun with the company of a friend!
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
It’s good practice to limit smoking and alcoholic beverage intake in general, as these habits can lead to health issues in people of all ages. But it’s especially important for seniors who want to stay active and independent! American Heart Month presents the perfect time to renew your commitment for change in these areas.
It’s Never Too Late to Quit
Smoking cigarettes increases the formulation of plaque in blood vessels and damages artery walls, significantly contributing to heart disease. Even if you’ve smoked for years, quitting now can lower your risk of developing the condition.
Take advantage of the help available from Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home services. Our caregivers can provide the encouragement needed to finally kick this habit!
Be Smart About Alcohol
Drinking alcohol is also detrimental to your heart because it raises blood pressure and increases the chance of heart failure. If you can’t cut it out completely, moderation is key. Experts recommend limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one or two drinks a day.
At Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care services, we’re committed to helping our care receivers feel great and remain independent – and maintaining a healthy heart is crucial! Our caregivers, who are seniors themselves, understand how important it is for those we serve to keep their ticker in prime shape and will be there every step of the journey to developing heart healthy habits! So keep that ticker healthy during American Heart Month and beyond!