Pump Up Senior Heart Health with Physical Activity

Heart conditions are among the most common and costly health challenges for seniors on Medicare. For those over 65, congestive heart failure and heart rhythm disturbances are among the leading causes of hospital admissions. And with the elderly population growing, the financial burden of heart disease is projected to increase. However, research shows a promising solution to boost senior heart health: exercise. Discover the link between physical activity and cardiovascular health in older adults and how to reduce risks with minimal effort. 

Less Movement, More Risk 

Studies show that physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease, similar to smoking, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. Seniors who don’t get much physical activity are more likely to develop heart issues than those who do. 

Sitting too much is one of the main culprits. Recent research shows that even when adjusting for some physical activity, prolonged periods of sitting can lead to health problems including heart disease. Sedentary habits decrease blood flow, allowing fatty acids to build up in blood vessels which increase the risk of heart disease

Addressing Inflammation Through Lifestyle Changes

While elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure are widely recognized as primary risk factors for heart disease, inflammation also plays a key role. Chronic inflammation can contribute to the buildup of fatty plaque inside arteries, setting the stage for heart attacks and stroke. Reducing inflammation through lifestyle changes,* such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a heart-healthy diet, and increasing physical activity is possible.

It’s exciting to see the research around lifestyle habits and the huge impact that our choices can have on future heart health,” says Jon Ackland, Chief Science Officer at PEAR Health Labs. He adds, “Even if you have a genetic predisposition to heart disease, small amounts of physical activity can reduce or eliminate its effects. And a number of tiny lifestyle choices add up to significantly bring down your health  risks. Finally, it’s never too late to start. It’s amazing where a routine of small  steps can take you. Of course, it’s important to always work with a healthcare provider to create a personalized plan.”

How Exercise Promotes Senior Heart Health

Engaging in regular moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity strengthens the heart muscle, improving its efficiency in pumping blood throughout the body. This results in more blood flow to muscles along with increased oxygen levels.

While certain genetic traits, conditions, or habits may elevate the risk for coronary heart disease, physical activity can help reduce some of these risk factors by:

  • Reducing blood pressure and triglyceride levels (a type of fat in the blood)
  • Elevating HDL (high-density lipoproteins) the “good” cholesterol 
  • Reducing the risk of overweight and obesity when combined with a reduced-calorie diet
  • Lowering levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation and heightened heart disease risk

It Doesn’t Take Much

Research confirms that even a little physical activity can significantly boost heart health, especially in older adults. Leading health authorities, including the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association, recommend a combination of aerobic exercise (jogging, swimming, biking) along with resistance and/or weight training. These types of exercise work best together to prevent and manage heart disease. Older adults should also add balance exercises to their routine for flexibility and better health.

These recommendations match the advice for the general population, which suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week and muscle-strengthening exercise two or more days a week. 

One study found that older adults who engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week were 67% less likely to die from any cause compared to those who are less active. Even light exercise, like walking, can improve heart health for people over 60. On the flip side, every additional 30 minutes of sedentary behavior increases the risk of death from any cause by 32%.

Variety, Convenience, and Customization are Key

Fitness solutions designed for seniors should accommodate their needs, whether they’re beginners or seasoned exercisers. Platforms like Aaptiv cater to seniors’ unique needs and goals, regardless of their fitness levels. 

  • Variety  –  With an extensive library of over 9,500+ on-demand classes spanning 15 categories, including strength training, walking, and stretching, Aaptiv helps seniors maintain motivation and engagement.
  • Convenience – Seniors have the flexibility to exercise in the comfort of their homes, or take part in group workouts at gyms, leveraging Aaptiv’s  vast Medicare gym network spanning over 27,000 locations. 
  • Customization—Aaptiv’s hyper-personalized plans tailor workouts to accommodate seniors’ age, interest, location, and physical abilities, adapting seamlessly to their progress through comprehensive tracking. 

By incorporating regular exercise into their daily routines and using accessible, easy-to-use fitness resources like Aaptiv, seniors can proactively enhance and safeguard their heart health and enjoy a fulfilling and active lifestyle well into their golden years.

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