For people who are retired or are at retirement age, you might wonder how you can keep your heart healthy while having fun during your free time. Luckily, there are some simple things that you can do to stay healthy and feel great.
Understand Your Medical History
Learning about your personal medical history can help you take better care of yourself. Take time to read over your medical records and ask family members about any instances of heart disease or other illnesses in your family tree. You can use this knowledge to detect future health problems early.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Research has found that older adults who do not consume alcohol have a lower risk of heart disease and strokes than aging adults who do drink. If you’re over 65 and in good health, consider cutting back or going alcohol-free to see if it improves your cardiovascular health.
Reduce Salt Intake
Overeating salt can increase blood pressure—and too high blood pressure can damage your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Reducing your salt intake means fewer headaches, decreased risk of injury from falls, improved kidney function, and reduced fatigue. Experts recommend no more than 2,400 milligrams per day for healthy adults; however, most people get more than that through food alone.
Exercise is a beautiful way to promote a healthy heart. Some exercise is better than none, so be sure to at least walk each day. If you can do more, all the better! A ten-minute walk every day burns almost as many calories as an hour of tennis or a forty-five-minute run. That extra effort has additional benefits beyond your heart: Physical activity contributes to weight loss and weight management, which helps lower cholesterol levels and improves overall health. Plus, it will help you sleep better at night!
Get Your Flu Shot
During flu season, aging family members are vulnerable to viruses. Getting a yearly flu shot is vital for your health, but it’s even more critical if you already have heart problems. There is some evidence that getting a flu shot can lower their risk of death by as much as 50% for aging family members who already have severe heart conditions.
High levels of stress are harmful to your heart. A study published in the journal Circulation found that patients with high-stress levels had a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease, especially African Americans. Stress-management techniques like meditation and yoga can help keep your heart healthy and prevent disease. And though sex is not necessarily an exercise, it burns calories and releases endorphins, which both help reduce stress and improve heart health.
Studies show that as we age, sleep is critical to heart health. Many doctors believe that a lack of quality sleep may lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that people over 65 years old spend nearly 50 percent less time in bed than they did just 10 years ago, possibly due to aging bodies and minds—and possibly because aging family members today are more likely to work into their 70s than their grandparents were. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain regular sleeping habits and be mindful of how much sleep is achieved each night.