Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Friday, May 28, 2021

9 Steps To Drastically Improve Heart Health

Hearts can be kept healthy at every age by adopting a few simple habits.

Try More Than One Kind of Workout Every Month

People who did at least two different types of exercise in a month are more likely to achieve their workout goals, according to a study from the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. Adults should get 150-300 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75-150 minutes per week of intense physical activity. 

“Since a greater variety of activities was associated with meeting exercise guidelines, mixing up your workouts to vary the type of exercise could be beneficial,” according to Susan Malone, study author and assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.  Popular study workouts included walking, bicycling, dance, treadmill walking and running and weightlifting.

One easy way to start adding variety in your workout routine is finding new exercises on YouTube.  Just enter “healthy heart exercises” for thousands of videos. You can add a time limit, such as 30 minutes, to meet a goal, or specify “beginner” or “legs” to find a level and focus body area. YouTube is also a great spot to learn meditation. Just type in “beginner meditation for seniors” and you’ll have plenty to choose from. 

Did you know that the majority of deaths (84%) of people age 65 and above are from heart dis-ease? Most of those are due to coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition responsible for heart attacks, heart failure, chest pain and irregular heartbeat (also known as arrhythmia). The risk of heart disease gets higher with age, but it’s not an inevitable fact of later years. In fact, there’s plenty you can do to keep your heart healthy.

You may have to change some habits, but it’s worth it to protect your heart muscle. And you don’t have to turn into a paragon of virtue; keeping good habits most of the time (slipping back once in a while) will do wonders for your heart health. 

  1. Eat foods that are good to your heart. Consuming lots of vegetables and whole fruits (not juices) are a great start. Eat lean protein, such as nuts, chicken, fish, tofu or whole grains. A Mediterranean diet that incorporates olive oil is a good choice.
  2. No smoking. Quitting smoking not only improves heart health but decreases the risk of stroke, cancer and lung disease. It’s hard, and many people are not successful on their first attempt. Don’t feel discouraged; try these proven methods to help kick the habit
  3. Rest up. A lack of sleep increases your chance for heart disease. Take a nap, or make sure you get a good nights’ rest. You may need to modify when you go to bed or the room you sleep in. Try these tricks for getting more sleep.   
  4. Relax. It’s easier said than done, but curbing anxiety can provide a host of benefits. Make time for relaxation: set aside 15 or 20 minutes for meditating, reading, doing a crossword, woodworking or any activity that takes you away from the news, emails and texts. Learn how to meditate for many benefits, including heart health.  
  5. Move. Your body wasn’t made to sit in a chair all day long, and your heart health reflects that. Get at least 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, taking the stairs, yoga, golf, dance or cycling. One tip is to find a parking spot far away from the store to incorporate more walking into your day. 
  6. Have a healthy weight. Most of us struggle with this one. After all, a juicy cheeseburger costs less than a salad at many places. But if you make better choices most of the time, that’s enough to drastically improve your health. And if you think you can walk off a milkshake, think again. The biggest effect on your weight is what you eat, not how much you work out (unless, of course, you’re training for a triathlon or the Senior Olympics!). The good news is that even a small loss of 5 lbs. has big benefits.
  7. Know your numbers. “People should know their numbers,” says Jorge Plutzky, director of preventive cardiology at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston. “That means knowing your blood pressure, knowing your cholesterol, especially your bad cholesterol level, and knowing your glucose levels.” The LDL, or bad cholesterol, number is the most predictive of heart attack and stroke. It should be less than 100, or less than 70 if you’ve had a previous cardiovascular issue. 
  8. Cut back on alcohol. Drinking excessively can increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, arrhythmia and high cholesterol, all of which contribute to heart disease. Some studies suggest it’s okay for women to have one drink a day, while men can have two. But new research suggests lower or no alcohol consumption may be best.
  9. Take your medicine. Nobody likes to take pills, but if your health care professional has prescribed drugs (such as medicine to lower cholesterol and blood pressure) for you, it’s important to take them regularly. 


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical decisions before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors