We all want to be healthier the older we get. Knowing that our bodies will begin to decay, or have declined already, can frustrate us and prevent us from enjoying life to its fullest. One of the keys to maintaining health is the condition of the heart.
The heart is, quite literally, the lifeblood of our bodies. It is what pumps the blood throughout the body, bringing necessary nutrients to the various muscles and systems, and helping to clear out waste. The healthier our heart is, the more likely we can stay active in our later years and maintain our independence. Since this organ is so vital, it deals with a higher potential for issues to occur, especially if we do not lead a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise is one of the best ways to maintain our hearts. The right kind of workouts that specifically strengthen this muscle will help it continue to function properly for years to come. If you want to keep your heart healthy, these exercises are the key.
Running and walking fast are great workouts to get the heart rate up and help it get stronger. They are perfect activities because you do not need any extra equipment to perform them, and you can continue to do these activities in your old age. Even if you have been a runner for years, you may have to tone it down as you get older and walk at a brisk pace instead, though jogging is better overall if you can manage it. Speed-walking will still elevate your heart rate and improve its longevity, while adjusting to your changing physiological needs. Eventually, just a regular walking pace may be all that you can manage, but this will still help to keep your heart going.
Another great cardio workout is bicycling. This could take the form of a more intense activity like mountain biking, or just a leisurely ride in a park or along the road. When you are younger, engaging in this activity will cause the large muscles in your legs to constantly expand and contract, which results in your heart increasing the amount of work it is doing to pump nutrient-filled blood to your hard-working muscles. As you age, bicycling should move towards the less intense levels, such as biking in flatter areas. This will still work your heart rate, but without adding too much wear and tear on your leg muscles which are now more prone to injury. It is important to remember that your aging muscles and bones cannot take the same punishment as they used to, so exercising intensely will do more harm than good for your body.
Training with different types of muscle work in short spurts can do wonders for your heart. Using different muscles throughout the body for short sets pushes your heart to work harder and pump more blood to the various systems you are using. These sets could include sit ups, squats, pushups, high knees, and other exercises. The key is to perform them for short timeframes, then switch to another after a quick rest in between. By targeting different muscle groups, and doing so in succession, you are building muscle while also improving the strength of your heart. This kind of workout routine can help prevent heart attacks, especially as you get older.
For those of us who may get bored of repetitive exercises like running or circuit training, playing sports that require a lot of movement will improve heart health as well. Some great examples include tennis, basketball, competitive swimming, and cross-country skiing. When you are older and some of the more intense sports are no longer an option, there are still plenty of opportunities to engage in sports like pickleball or badminton. Any activity that gets you moving is helpful, and sports tend to add a competitive factor that makes them more engaging. Plus, you get to enjoy the social aspects of the game.
The benefits of maintaining heart health for as long as possible are numerous. It allows you to maintain your independence and help you avoid living in a nursing home, which can be a concern for various reasons, for a longer period of time. Your body is better equipped to fend off common heart diseases and potential heart attacks. You can generally enjoy life more as well.
When you put in the work to build up the strength of your heart through these exercises, your body is far more likely to last against the rigors of old age and natural decay. There are other important factors, including diet, that affect how you care for the heart, but since it is a muscle, it needs to be stretched and strengthened just like all muscles should be.