By Suzanne Kanner, RN, B.S.N., Medina County Health Department
Certain natural changes take place in the heart as we age, but the prescription for a healthy heart remains the same: Eat well, exercise regularly, and have your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
Like everything else, as we mature our hearts naturally change. The heart may get smaller or muscle cells may decrease and degenerate, causing it to weaken and pump less blood. Valves sometimes thicken and narrow, decreasing blood flow which then may lead to chest pain and shortness of breath. Some individuals may even feel a change in their heart as its “electrical system” increases, decreases, or causes an irregular heart beat.
Remaining physically active is important for heart health, regardless of your age. Twenty-five minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three times a week is ideal, however, thirty minutes of moderate activity five days a week (raking leaves, climbing stairs, walking) can also improve heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, and decreasing body fat percentages.
- Use the stairs instead of an elevator.
- Park farther from a store than necessary and walk the extra distance.
- Do housework at a brisk pace.
- If you’ve been sitting down for a while, get up and stretch and walk around a bit.
Besides being good for your heart, exercise will:
- Make you feel better about yourself.
- Help you look healthier.
- Lead to weight loss and help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Give you more energy.
- Build muscle.
- Maintain strong joints.
- Help lower blood pressure.
- Boost your immune system.
- Strengthen bones.
- Speed up metabolism.
- Improve circulation.
- Aid digestion.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Increase endurance.
Whatever activity/activities you choose, get yourself moving for a happier, healthier you. If you are over 65 and haven’t been active, see your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program.
Feel free to stop by or make an appointment with the Medina County Health Department Public Health Nursing Division for a free blood pressure screening or for more information about heart health. Our office, located at 4800 Ledgewood Drive, Medina, is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. We can also be reached at 330.723.9688 or 1-888-723-9688 (option 1) for Health Services.
The Medina County Health Department has protected your health since 1918 and is a trusted source of health guidance for creating a healthy environment, healthy people, and a healthy community. Services are partially supported by your property tax health levy. Equal opportunity provider