The Benefits of Cardio Exercise for Seniors
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain our health and fitness. Aerobic exercise is a great way to do this, and it has many benefits specifically for older adults. Not only can cardio help improve our overall health, but it can also help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Additionally, regular physical activity can improve endurance, mobility, strength and balance—all components of healthy aging.
Because February is American Heart Month, The Village at Woods Edge is pleased to share some information about cardiovascular fitness and how our team is here to support you in retirement.
What do we mean by cardio exercise
You likely have heard about “aerobic exercise,” “anaerobic exercise,” “cardio” and “resistance training.” You also may have heard about heart rate zones, cardio, HIIT, steady state and other terms around fitness. What does all of this mean? And what should you focus on?
To start, heart rate zones refer to your heart rate in different levels of activity. Your “resting heart rate” is how many beats per minute your heart pumps when you are resting, such as when you first wake up. As you get up and moving, your heart rate moves through “zones,” increasing toward your maximum heart rate.
Exercise is a bit like dieting—every trainer has a slightly different recommendation. Just like you can go on the Atkins Diet, the Keto Diet, etc., you can focus on “Zone 2 training” or “high-intensity interval workouts” (HIIT) or myriad other programs to support heart health.
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise
Although fitness gurus can be as varied as the diet gurus, nearly all agree on the classifications of aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise uses energy from oxygen as you breathe (the word aerobic means “with oxygen”). Aerobic exercise tends to be sustained physical activity that elevates your heart rate into the lower zones for an extended period. Walking, light jogging, biking, or fun classes such as Zumba are good examples of aerobic exercises designed to train the heart in particular.
Anaerobic exercise (“without oxygen”) involves short bursts of intense activity. Your heart rate jumps up to the higher zones, and your lungs can’t take in enough oxygen to power your body—and must rely on energy already stored in your muscles. Sprints and weightlifting (“resistance training”) are great examples of anaerobic exercise. These exercises work your muscles and lung capacity—while also giving your heart a workout.
In general, “cardio training” refers to aerobic exercise, and regular cardio has immense benefits on heart health.
What is the best exercise for seniors?
The most important aspect of senior wellness is to get a regular dose of physical activity. Walking, jogging, swimming and cycling are some of the top cardio exercises, improving heart health and increasing energy levels. Regular cardio lowers your risks of heart disease, diabetes and maybe even some cancers. Additionally, the benefits of these types of activities can help you maintain your mobility, thereby greatly reducing the risk of falls.
Walking for 30 minutes to an hour a day might be as important as an apple a day for keeping the doctor away. That’s why, when you visit The Village, you often will see residents getting their steps in, walking throughout our beautiful campus. Also, new for 2023, a park is opening across the street, giving us a host of exciting new walking trails.
While cardio fitness is arguably the most important, a blend of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise might be the best combination. For example, you might do three days of resistance training and three days of cardio-specific aerobic exercise to make sure your body is getting what it needs from a fitness perspective. Village residents enjoy a mix of both at the Franklin YMCA, which offers classes and training sessions to help you become your ideal self in retirement.
Explore the Active Lifestyle at The Village
Physical wellness is a top priority at The Village at Woods Edge, and moving to a retirement community presents so many opportunities to stay active as you age. In addition to wellness programming, the social engagement is good for the soul as well as your heart. The Village has a fantastic calendar of activities designed to bring residents together in fun and engaging ways, from trivia nights to meetups at The Back Porch & Grille.
To learn more about what all we offer and how we can support you in healthy aging, give us a call to schedule a tour today!