Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is especially important for seniors. An active lifestyle accompanied by a balanced diet can lower the risk of major health events, such as heart attack and stroke, by protecting against high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that seniors get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise each week, but recommends even more to increase health benefits.
Strength training can be beneficial to seniors by reducing pain, and providing relief for arthritis and osteoporosis. Strength training can also help improve balance and flexibility, which help protect against falls that result in broken bones. Strength exercises include pushups, sit-ups, bicep curls, lunges, and other weight lifting activities. According to the CDC, seniors should incorporate strength training into their exercise regimen at least twice a week.
Cardio and Aerobic Exercise
Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise. It is any kind of exercise that increases your heart rate and actually helps to make your heart, one of the most important muscles in your body, stronger. In addition to making your vital organs stronger and healthier, cardio and aerobic exercises also help to build endurance and burn fat. For seniors, cardio activities can include walking at a moderate pace or jogging, riding a bicycle, swimming, and even doing yard work.
It is important for seniors who have been inactive for an extended period of time to start slowly and talk with their health care providers before beginning any exercise program.
A healthy diet is important for the overall health of seniors and can drastically improve their fitness level. Feeding your body with the right nutrient rich foods will increase your energy levels and make it easier to stay physically active, as well as aid in the benefits of exercise. A diet that includes a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and proteins, and whole grains can assist the health benefits of exercise by keeping a healthy weight and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in a healthy range.
Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works