Benefits of Exercise: Is Exercise Good for Your Heart?
This article was updated on: 09/15/2018
Did you know that you can get the benefits of exercise with as little as 15 minutes of activity a day, according to an article published by Harvard Medical School? The American Heart Association says that the benefits of exercise are known to help prevent heart disease, the number one killer of American adults, as well as stroke, the fifth most common cause of death.
If you’re wondering what you can do to start seeing the benefits of exercise on your heart health, here are some tips to help you begin.
How do I start an exercise program if I’m not very active now?
The Cleveland Clinic offers a few useful tips for seniors who want to get active and experience the benefits of exercise on heart health:
- Start by getting the all-clear from your doctor. Your doctor can identify any potential health issues that may affect your exercise routine and help you exercise safely.
- Find a way to track your progress that works for you. This may be a stopwatch or timer, a pedometer that measures how far you’ve walked or jogged, or even a journal to keep notes about your physical activity. Watching your progress can encourage you to continue to pursue the benefits of exercise.
- Start slow and find exercises and activities that you enjoy. For some, that may be simply walking, riding your bike, or even dancing. Swimming is another great activity for seniors. To get the maximum benefits from exercise, you may include activities that increase your aerobic capacity, strengthen your muscles, and help improve your balance and stability.
- Don’t forget fuel and hydration. As you begin to increase the amount and intensity of your activity, you’ll need to pay special attention to drinking enough water and eating the right foods to keep your body well-hydrated and nourished. A healthy diet, plenty of water, and the benefits of exercise can go a long way toward protecting your heart.
How much do I need to work out to see the benefits of exercise?
The American Heart Association (AHA) lays out the following guidelines to help you get the maximum heart-healthy benefits of exercise:
- To improve heart health, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking and stretching each week. You can also see the benefits of exercise on cardiovascular health by completing 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise such as jogging, cycling, or step aerobics. You don’t have to limit yourself to one or the other; a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise also works.
- Two days per week of moderate to high-intensity muscle strengthening activity like yoga or weight training also increases the benefits of exercise on your heart.
- If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise such as playing sports or riding your bike can help keep your numbers low.
The AHA also reminds seniors that physical exercise doesn’t have to be complicated—anything that keeps you moving your body and burning calories counts! And if you can’t hit 30 or 40 minutes right away, something is always better than nothing, so just get moving. The easiest change you can make today to see the benefits of exercise is to begin walking every day. It’s free, easy to do, and even fun if you walk with a friend or group of people.
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