A healthy heart is important for anybody. Yet, as we age, it’s even more important to be mindful of our daily habits and how they impact all aspects of our health. Heart healthy choices can improve energy, fitness, and overall well-being, so here are some tips for maintaining heart health as we age.
Unless your doctor advises it, restrictive diets aren’t necessarily beneficial. It’s more valuable to take smaller steps that add up over time. Susan, the national health service director for The Goodman Group recommends:
- Cut down on sweets to help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of diabetes.
- Cut down on sauces, especially those that are heavy on sugar or saturated fats.
- Increase fruits and vegetables in your diet. Add an apple, pear, orange, or kiwi for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Not only will it be tasty and refreshing, it will tend to satisfy a sweet tooth and cut down on sweet cravings.
- Cutting down on sodium (salt) can help lower cholesterol, as well. Explore other herbs and spices as alternative seasonings.
- Cut down on carbs, especially processed carbs.
- Alcohol is high in sugar, best to keep to a minimum, although there is some evidence that a daily glass of red wine actually promotes a healthy heart.
Many health care professionals agree that 30 minutes of exercise a day is good for hearthealth. If 30 minutes at one time is too much, try three 10-minute spurts. Susan recommends:
- A brisk walk. Any kind of walking will be beneficial, but a brisk pace will increase your heart rate. However, you don’t want to overdo it. If you start to get tired, stop. Wear good shoes and walk on level surfaces to reduce your chance of tripping or falling.
- At home, you can use a stationary bike to strengthen leg muscles and boost heart health. You can also try different fitness videos that walk you through nice, easy-paced exercises. When you get tired or uncomfortable, stop.
- Walking up and down stairs is always great.
- To do leg extensions, bends, and knee exercises, hold onto the back of a dining room chair (make sure the chair is sturdy and won’t tip) or a countertop. This increases circulation in your leg muscles and works your heart.
“You may already be completing some cardio that helps with heart health and not even realize it," Susan says. "Walking the dog, gardening, and cleaning the house can all count toward increased heart rate and better heart health.”
Other Healthy Habits
Susan added these heart-healthy do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t smoke, and that includes e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
- Talk to your health care provider about which over the counter vitamins and minerals are right for you because not all vitamins are right for all people.
- Make sure to visit your doctor at least once a year, or more frequently as he or she recommends.
- Take all your medicines the way they’re prescribed. If you have questions, call your provider. Review medications regularly with your doctor as medications can react with one another and cause health issues.
So, whether you start your day with a brisk walk, enjoy fruit for a mid-morning snack, or ride a stationary bike while watching the evening news, you're one step closer to a healthy heart. It can be difficult to change your lifestyle all at once, so pick one or a few to start with and move up from there.