Valentine’s Day might be just around the corner, but our hearts are aflutter for another reason!
February is also heart health awareness month, and there is no better way to care for your heart than through proper diet and exercise. Focusing on ways to care for your heart, particularly through cardiovascular exercise, can make an amazing difference in your lifestyle
Cardiovascular exercise is critical to our health, especially as we age. When our hearts are pumping, our blood is flowing, calories burn faster, muscle is developed, and overall health improves dramatically.
For many of us, no matter our age, cardio workouts can sometimes seem like a burden. Getting up, going to the gym, and getting worn out isn’t exactly the picture of fun.
However, CareLink wants to turn this idea on its head. In fact, cardio exercises are some of the most fun and engaging exercises you can do, keeping you in motion and in action. Additionally, cardiovascular activities don’t have to be solitary; they can be done in groups and encourage plenty of interactivity with friends and family.
Top 5 Cardio Exercises for Older Adults
Depending upon your age, abilities, conditions, diagnosed diseases, and the recommendation of your doctor, your choice for cardio exercise can come in many forms.
But, that’s the wonderful thing about cardio: you can change it up as often as you want, finding new things that suit you, your health, and your interests!
Below, we have outlined our favorite cardio exercises. Which one is your favorite?
For those of us with arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pains, and other aches, swimming is an incredibly effective way to exercise.
Since you are surrounded by water, swimming is low impact on your joints and is a calming environment. Simply swimming laps can keep your heart pumping and your muscles strong.
Plus, being in the water can give your muscles a greater range of motion for moving and stretching, allowing you to increase your flexibility and endurance.
If you are not a confident solo swimmer, consider aquatic classes <link> like water aerobics and aqua Zumba. When you are with a group, you can have high energy and group interactivity. Not only will these classes make your body feel good, but they can also lift your mood and help create friendships with other class members.
While you may have a picture of bodybuilders and Arnold Schwarzenegger in your head, this is not the type of weight training we mean! Even light weights and other tools can make a huge difference.
When you lift weights, you are both increasing your heart rate and your muscle strength. By engaging your muscles, you are able to burn even more calories, resulting in weight loss, toning, and more physical strength.
Weight training does not simply mean lifting weights, though. In fact, some of the most effective weight training comes from using your own body weight. Activities like yoga or pilates encourage you to use your own body to build strength and flexibility. Holding yourself up into a plank or downward facing dog takes strength!
When you start out with weight training, you can begin small. Mark your progress, increase resistance, and try new moves over time. With the help of a group fitness class, a personal trainer, or an instructor, you can make a lot of progress in your various forms of weight training.
Aerobic classes have been used for decades for many reasons. For some people, having a group of people around you exercising helps to keep you interested in the workout. Other people around you, encouraging you to come back, can also keep you accountable to stick with your new workout routine.
For even more people, who come to the gym and don’t know where to begin, aerobics classes offer step-by-step guidance from class instructors. Instructors are skilled at breaking down movements to make sure you understand and can follow along.
Aerobics classes can come in many forms. Some classes like Zumba or barre classes are based in dance methods; others like circuit classes give you a variety of small spurts of activity, making the workout seem manageable and efficient.
Walking is an activity that can be enjoyed in many ways: indoors or outdoors; quickly or slowly; and long or short distances. It’s an exercise that you can truly make your own.
Getting started with a walking routine is rather simple. First, make your plan: where will you walk? How often will you walk? Will someone walk with you? How far and how long will you walk?
By setting these goals – and it is okay to start small and work your way up – you can build your stamina and spirit!
Who said cardio exercise had to be serious? Whether with a partner, a friend, or just by yourself, cutting loose with some dancing can lift your mood and keep you feeling young.
Dance classes are a good way to go out and meet people, but it’s also perfectly fine to enjoy dancing in the comfort of your home. Turn on a favorite album, and enjoy all the fun that flows from it.
How to Stick with a Cardio Routine
So now that we have given you plenty of ideas, you may be wondering: how do I get started? These are some of our favorite tips to help implement a fitness routine.
Set a specific time – setting a certain time during the day for exercise helps form a habit. Whether you plan to go for a walk every morning, or if you plan to go to the gym on three specific days of the week, making the commitment to a schedule is a great first step. Write down your goals, check them off when you complete them, and, in no time, you will have formed a habit.
Keep your workouts different – just as we mentioned above, there are plenty of ways to get your heart exercise in, with all different types of workouts. To stay committed, you have to keep yourself from getting bored. Plus, the more varied muscles groups you work, the better shape you can be in over time.
Attend a class – even if you are shy or do not enjoy exercising in front of other people, a class is an excellent way to feel part of a larger community. When you are surrounded by other people in a class, you have people who can hold you accountable towards your goals. Or, it is just nice to have a smiling face greeting you when you start a class.
Track your progress – for whatever reason you have begun exercising – to lose weight, to tone up, to manage your diabetes, to reduce arthritis pains, or to improve your mood – keep track of how exercise is affecting you. How does it make you feel? Are you feeling happier? Stronger? Lighter? Keeping track can help encourage you to keep going, while also showing you how far you have come.
Get a friend involved – having another person on board with your exercise routine can help make the workout go by quickly. Whether you have a friend, family member, or a personal trainer by your side, you can have someone to talk to, someone who pushes you, and someone who makes you show up each time. On the other hand, you can also be that person for someone else!
Making the Most of Your Cardio Workouts
As we get older, challenges can arise that make exercise more difficult. From aches and pains to losing basic motor skills, there are medical issues that can get in the way of our plans.
However, having these issues just opens new windows of opportunities to try new things and achieve new goals. If you are healthy and able, trying out a new gym with trainers who are geared towards helping you can make all the difference.
The CareLink Fitness & Wellness Center is one of your best resources in the Little Rock area. Our gym, classes, pool, and staff can be the tools you need to feeling your best in the year ahead.
Since the center is made specifically for those over the age of 50, you know that you are coming into classes that are made just for you. Unlike large gyms in the area, you can come in feeling confident, knowing that we have created a great workout for you and for people just like you.
This February, put your heart first: find a new cardiovascular activity that makes your heart happy! Call us today at 501-372-5300 to learn more about our gym, or click here to learn more about how membership can benefit you.