Heart disease is the number one killer of older men and women. That fact is unlikely to change in the near future because the population of older people is growing faster than any other age group. And among older people, heart disease is more common than any other disability except arthritis. People used to think that only men got heart disease, but in fact it’s the number one cause of death among older women. The only difference is that women develop the disease about ten years later than men do.
Older adults can do many things right now and every day to avoid heart disease. It’s never too late! Heart disease is a ‘lifestyle disease’. How they choose to live affects their heart health. If they choose to eat a lot of junk food, use tobacco, and spend the day sitting, their heart will be under great stress. Eventually, this unhealthy behavior will cause some part of their heart to break down.
The habit of being physically active over many years can help protect against heart disease, but it’s never too late for anyone to start to be active, regardless of their age. Studies show that older men and women who exercise, live longer and do not develop heart disease as often as people who do not exercise. In most of these studies, people were asked to walk at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Walking is considered moderate exercise. The simple rule for older adults to benefit from this activity is that their heart has to beat a little faster and make them breathe a little harder. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week is quite easy to manage, even for people who are not in the habit of being active.
At least one major study also found that people who worked at getting stronger through resistance exercises were also less likely to develop heart disease.
As a fitness practitioner you could:
organize a walking club
purchase Urban Poles and offer a Pole walking class
offer a Mall Walking Program in a nearby enclosed mall and include a Strength and Stretch class before the walk
offer specific strength training programs just for seniors in groups and have fun
use bands and balls in classes and encourage seniors to also exercise at home
contact Active Aging Canada firstname.lastname@example.org and we can send you an Active Living Tip on this topic to hand out to senior members
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that is will be sociable for the participants, they will have fun, and that they will feel good after the activity, as those are the three main motivators for older adults to be active.