It wouldn’t be news to most of us that cardiovascular exercise – physical activity that raises the heart rate for a sustained period of time – has great health benefits. But recent research reveals there are extra reasons for seniors to get in their cardio – whether it’s a brisk jog through the park, a rousing game of pickleball, or some invigorating laps in the pool. To help get you moving, here are some of the most important ways cardio exercise benefits senior health.
Cardiovascular exercise – cardio, for short – gets its name from the work it requires of the heart and blood vessels. This form of exercise forces the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the body’s other working muscles, and that effort results in increased blood vessel function, lower blood pressure, and better overall heart health. For seniors, a happy heart goes a long way toward rich later years in life.
Mental Health & Acuity
Amazingly, those morning bicycle rides, afternoon gardening routines, and evening ballroom dances don’t just improve the way your muscles function; they also enhance your brain activity. Research shows that regular exercise helps our brains to think clearly and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Exercising also releases endorphins that are mood-boosters and ward off anxiety and depression. Being consistent with your choice of safe exercise for seniors – the CDC recommends 150 minutes a week for individuals over 65 with no limiting health conditions – can keep you feeling youthful, energized, and content.
Retirement offers a whole world of exciting possibilities, especially for seniors with a high level of mobility. Regular cardio exercise gives seniors the best chance to maintain the independence that allows them to keep learning, growing, and exploring. Cardio produces better endurance for tackling activities of daily living, keeping up with chores, climbing stairs, and pursuing hobbies. For weight issues that might otherwise limit physical activity, cardio offers a helpful solution. Regular exercise also improves balance and may reduce the rate of falls by as much as 23%. For seniors who are eager to maintain their independence and want the freedom to design what their day looks like – cardio is key.
It’s Never Too Late
For all these reasons and more – better sleep, improved lung function – cardio exercise forms an essential part of healthy aging. The great news is that the health benefits begin as soon as the exercise does. Even a senior who did not exercise regularly in middle age can see great health gains by starting a routine in their 60s or 70s. So get out and get moving with your loved ones!
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