The month of September seems to be speeding by but don’t let October arrive without taking a moment to remember World Heart Day on September 29. According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal post, heart disease affects about 2.4 million Canadian adults and is the second leading cause of death in Canada. But small lifestyle changes can make a big impact on lowering your risk for heart disease and other chronic health conditions that affect longevity and quality of life.
As one might expect, getting regular exercise not only helps prevent weight gain in older age, strengthen muscles, and improve balance, but an active lifestyle can also boost quality of life for people with heart disease. Try adding just 20-30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine to reap the benefits; enlist a walking buddy to keep you motivated and committed.
A healthy, nutritious diet can also help promote heart health and improve immunity and physical function. A Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, beans, nuts, and legumes along with a heart-healthy fat like olive oil can decrease the risk of developing heart disease. Lowering your sodium intake can also help lower blood pressure, protecting the heart.
If stopping smoking is on your to-do list, there is no better time than the present. Even lifelong smokers can benefit significantly from stopping smoking by improving lung and cardiovascular function. Limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men is also recommended to support overall good health among middle-aged and older adults.
In addition to walking daily, older adults can help improve their heart health with strength training to preserve muscle mass, yoga for flexibility, core strength and stress management, and interval training to get the heart pumping!
Bored with your routine? Try something new this fall; many pools have reopened or, consider taking an online pilates or spinning class. It’s never too late to make a fresh start!