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5 Cardio Protective Exercises for the Over 50s

5 Cardio Protective Exercises for the Over 50s

Protecting your heart is important at any age, but it becomes crucial as you grow older.

In fact, those over 50 are likely to gain the most from starting a new heart-friendly exercise program. Cardiovascular exercise keeps your heart and lungs strong. But, it also helps manage the aging process by giving you more energy, managing your weight, relieving symptoms of anxiety, and helping you feel younger.

Yet, as you get older, deciding how much cardio you should do and what kind of exercises are best for your body becomes more complicated. By the time you reach 50, you and your body have been through a lot. It is important to be kind and considerate to your body.

If you are over 50, moderately fit, and do not have any chronic health conditions, the American College of Sports Medicine and the Center for Disease Control recommendation cardiovascular exercise for half an hour a day, five days a week. Alternatively, you can participate in intense cardio for 20 minutes at a time three days a week.

To get started, choose an activity: it could be low-, moderate-, or high-intensity exercise, or your own unique combination of exercises.

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Use your body as a guide, and check out these five types of exercises.

  1. Low-Intensity Exercise

Low-intensity exercise includes exercise that you can do five days a week, or even every day depending on your preferences and health. They are perfect for this age group because they encourage you to get up and get moving, but do not require huge amounts of time or energy.

Examples of low-intensity exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Recreational swimming
  • Pilates

These will help keep you moving and increase your mobility. They also give your heart the care it needs to keep beating with ease. They are a great place to start for anyone who has recently been ill, injured, or who has let their physical fitness lapse.

  1. Moderate-Intensity Exercise

Moderate exercise is for those who want to get a little sweaty. Done three to five days per week, moderate exercise might include actions like:

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  • Power walking
  • Tennis
  • Higher-intensity yoga
  • Golf
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Cycling
  • Gardening
  • Shoveling snow
  • Playing with children

Moderate-intensity exercise is a great middle ground between everyday activities and the most intense forms of exercise and is good for anyone in an intermediate stage of fitness.

  1. High-Intensity Exercise

If you have been active your whole life, or are healthy enough to choose to get active now, high-intensity exercise can help keep you moving at a fast pace for years.

Jogging and running are common exercises that are perfect for maximizing heart and lung health. These training techniques are known to lower blood pressure and reduce the need for at-home monitoring for those with cardiovascular problems.

Those who want the workout without the impact on their joints can turn to elliptical machine workouts, rowing, or cross-country skiing for workouts.

High-intensity interval training is a popular tool to use once or twice a week. Choose an exercise and alternate between comfortable or moderate levels and short bursts of all-out intensity.

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  1. Muscle-Building Exercises

Not only does strength training promote heart and lung health, but it also prevents your muscles from deteriorating. Additionally, gaining more strength makes cardio exercise easier on your body and helps you rebound from more grueling workouts.

Unless you are a gym bunny, start out with body weight exercises, like squats, to help keep major muscle groups thriving.

Squat in front of a chair, keep your arms in front of you, and hold that position before standing up again. Do two sets of 10 repetitions for the best results.

If you find body weight exercises too challenging, modify them. Use pillows or a chair for support to keep you upright. Remember, form is key. Do not over-extend yourself to the point where you are performing the exercise incorrectly.

  1. Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises, like stretching, are also important for people as they age. Although most flexibility exercises are not likely to get your heart rate up, they do prepare you for cardiovascular exercise, and help you cool down after.

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Be sure to incorporate some stretching exercises into your workouts, or even create a day where you focus on flexibility on its own.

Once you have selected your activities, choose your duration. The recommendations listed above from the ACSM are a guideline, but if you have not exercised in a while, work your way up to that half an hour to build endurance. Start with 10-15 minutes, or even five minutes, of exercise, and go from there.

Finally, choose how regularly you want to exercise. Start by working out a few days per week to see how your body fares. Be sure to give yourself plenty of rest. Listen to your body; it will tell you whether you can train five days per week or if it is happier with only two or three days.

Follow these easy steps, and listen to your body and your doctor, and the next phase of your life could be your healthiest.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregoru via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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