Many older Canadians have heart disease, or know someone who does. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, occurs when the heart and blood vessels are no longer able to provide the oxygen and energy we need for everyday activities. It is the number one cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, more than 23 million people will die from the disease.
What many people don’t know is that small changes in their exercise routine can go a long way in preventing heart disease. With a few simple changes, their next walk around the neighbourhood or on the treadmill will give them more protection from heart disease.
How can faster walking prevent heart disease?
Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that older adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, each week. Managing to find the time or opportunity to exercise for 150 minutes can be challenging. So how can you make it worth your while for your clients?
Researchers have found that increasing the intensity of the walk or jog by even small amounts can reduce the risk of heart disease. When an older adult chooses to exercise at a higher intensity, they reduce their risk of heart disease twice as much compared to exercising at a low intensity.
Older Canadians with diabetes can also benefit from these findings since high-intensity exercise helps to control blood glucose. Researchers found that 200 minutes a week of higher intensity exercise improved the way the body processes sugar. That helps their heart because poor glucose tolerance is a known risk factor for heart disease.
How can you increase the intensity of exercise for your clients?
Encourage them when walking on a treadmill to try to increase their speed
When walking outdoors, have them time themselves and try to beat their best time
Challenge them by including bursts of jogging in their walks
Offer walking clubs and try walking or hiking on a terrain that has hills or inclines
Start Urban Pole Walking classes at your facility
Encourage participation in a faster-paced physical activity such as Zumba, swimming, or cross country skiing
Encourage the use of stair climbing machines at your fitness facility, if available
Older adults should exercise at a pace that works best for them and that fits into their schedule. Physical activity can be broken up into 10-minute bouts throughout the week, with the ultimate goal of reaching 150 minutes. Have them begin at a pace that is comfortable for them, and keep building up the intensity until their heart is beating faster and their breathing picks up.
No matter what activity they choose, ensure that it is pleasurable and challenging so that they feel motivated to do it regularly.