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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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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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