Most people’s heart beats an average of 42 million times in one year. That works out to a similar average of 420 million times per decade, and so once you become a senior citizen at age 65 your heart will have beat some 2 trillion, 730 million times! Now we do agree wholeheartedly that age is only a number and that some people are still in great shape in their 60s. But it’s indisputable that such a number means there’s a lot of mileage on your ticker at age 65. Even if you’ve taken good care of your health and stayed active. Everyone in their golden years should be receptive to heart healthy tips for seniors with an eye to getting as many more years in as possible!
Let’s expand that and say heart healthy tips are good advice for everyone, and not just for seniors. February is heart health month in Canada every year, and people of all ages are encouraged to make better diet and lifestyle choices so that they age with better cardiac health. Today’s focus will be on older folks, however, and we’ll share some heart healthy tips for seniors that are easy to follow and will make a difference for most people. Heart health month is just 4 months away from now in Canada, and so who of you is going to be in better heart health by that time?
Statistics indicate that 84% of deaths occurring in people over the age of 65 are attributable to heart disease. Such a large majority number makes heart healthy tips a genuine need for seniors. Yes, everybody is going to die someday. But it’s safe to say that the majority of seniors would like to live as long as possible. One of the primary focuses of heart health month in Canada is to make people aware of the way coronary artery disease is so prevalent in North America.
We’ll skip including lowering blood pressure and avoiding high cholesterol levels in our heart healthy tips for seniors, as those are staple pieces of advice and ones that should be pursued in detailed consultation with your family physician. We’ll talk about steps you can take and the best of them is one that you can guess with ease.
At least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Moderate exercise like walking is acceptable. But you are encouraged to push yourself and engage in vigorous physical exercise as much as possible. Know your limits, and always stop exercising if you feel faint, light headed or out of sorts in any way. But if you can really get your heart rate up and proceed to break a sweat then you’re doing it right. And your heart will really benefit.
Cardio boxing is an excellent choice for seniors as it isn’t too hard on the knees like aerobics is for some and you can adjust how hard you go at it. But this is just one of many options, choose the one that’ll be most enjoyable for you and then make sure you push yourself – but safely.
Eat a Better Diet
This is one of the oldest heart healthy tips for people of any age, seniors included. And in fairness it’s often the most difficult one for people of all ages to adhere to. We all have foods that we love to eat that really aren’t the healthiest. Generally speaking if it’s not good for your waistline it’s not good for your heart. The basic heart health month in Canada guideline here is to eat more fruits and vegetables while limiting salts, fatty meats, foods with excess cholesterol and eliminating saturated fats. If you can’t eliminate them, then cut back extensively at least. Making saturated fat public enemy number one is definitely a heart healthy tip for all you seniors out there!
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
This one is listed here as it goes hand in hand with the heart healthy tips for seniors listed above it. Having excess body weight means your heart has to work harder to pump blood. In fact, these two are always front and center with public service announcements during heart health month in Canada. It also connects with our first point regarding regular and vigorous exercise. If you meet requirements numbers 1 and 2, you’ll almost certainly be meeting number 3 as well.
Avoid and Mediate Stress
Just because a person’s retired and the children are long since grown and moved out doesn’t mean there’s no stress in his or her life. Granted, that will mean much less stress. But there’s still going to be times when older people are going to get frazzled too. Now that we’ve established that stress is unavoidable, we can roll out our next heart healthy tips. For seniors that’s to understand that their nervous system is more susceptible to the effects of cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and one that can do a whole lot of harm when in large quantities. And it can do long-term damage to heart muscles in people who are chronically stressed.
It may be difficult, but try to let worries slide off you ‘like water off a duck’s back’, as the expression goes. If you have difficulty with this, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can do wonders for people of all ages. In addition, medical cannabis may be something you’re open to given recent legalization and proof that marijuana is not especially harmful. If you get stressed easily then trying it is added to our list of heart healthy tips for seniors like you.
Don’t Smoke, and Limit Alcohol Consumption
This tip is always at the forefront of heart health month in Canada messaging as well. And while it applies to people of all ages it is very much a heart healthy tip for seniors. The dangers of smoking are well and extensively documented these days. If you’re a senior smoker it’s unlikely that it’s a habit you’ve picked up in recent years. Research has shown that quitting smoking can reverse the damage done if you continue to be a non-smoker long term. So if you’re 65 and up and still smoking then your heart would very much appreciate it if you finally kicked that habit for good. For those of you considering medical marijuana it will be important to note that it can be ingested without smoking anything at all.
Drinking alcohol is fine as long as it’s done in moderation, and the guidelines issued during heart health month in Canada are the same as the year-round guidelines issued by Health Canada; no more than 3 servings per week for men, and 2 for women. Your definition of moderation can be a departure from this, but is shouldn’t be a drastic one.
These are heart healthy tips for seniors that can serve to keep those over 65 in their best cardiovascular health. There are more to be sure. One that nearly made our list was to be sure you not only get all the hours of sleep you need but that you get quality sleep. It’s natural for us to sleep more lightly as we age. But the use of isochronic tones can help you sleep more deeply. That’s all for today, so here’s to many, many more years of 42 million heartbeats for all of you.