Tips for Leading a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Tips for Leading a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

June 20, 2024

How to Improve Heart Health for the Elderly 

There’s never a wrong time to start learning how to improve heart health. Why not start now? Heart health is influenced by a range of factors, some of which you can control and others that you can’t. Family history is one major risk factor for heart disease, but an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and being overweight can also elevate your risk. If you’re ready to get yourself and those you love on track toward better heart health, start by heading to your general practitioner for a full check-up. This should be done annually. To make sure you’re staying healthy year-round, try following these tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle from BrightStar Care®.

Heart-Healthy Tip #1: Eat Right

Eating right isn’t just a great idea, it’s a necessity for heart health. By putting the right food into your body, you’ll receive the proper nutrients to fight off everyday germs, stay energized, and keep your heart healthy.  Things like whole grains, lean meats, eggs, leafy greens, and fruits are all vital to keeping cholesterol low and maintaining a healthy heart. Here are a few of our tips for making eating right easier: 

Prep Meals Ahead of Time 

While it can be tempting to head to the grocery store every time your stomach starts growling, we advise against shopping on an empty stomach. This practice will help you avoid buying treats that aren’t on your shopping list.  After that, choose one day each week to spend meal prepping. Plan what you’ll eat for the week ahead and include plenty of nutritious ingredients. Once meal prep is complete, it’s easy for you and your family members to grab a meal and heat it up. If you have a loved one who needs help with meal prep, ask the BrightStar Care team about healthy senior cooking. 

Try Some of the Best Foods for Heart Health

Eating right doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of your favorite foods. In fact, many delicious ingredients count as heart-healthy foods! If you struggle to get enough of a certain nutrient, you can always talk to your doctor about the best supplements for heart health as well. Check out our recommendations for heart-healthy foods or take some inspiration from the CDC:  

  • Leafy greens

  • Fruit, including apples, bananas, grapes and prunes

  • Lean meats 

  • Eggs 

  • Nuts and seeds 

  • Legumes, such as kidney beans and chickpeas 

  • Salmon

  • Avocados 

Combine your favorite ingredients into these simple heart-healthy snacks: 

  • Apples dipped in peanut butter

  • Carrots and broccoli with hummus 

  • Rice cakes 

  • Fruit smoothies 

  • Fruit salads 

  • Raisins 

  • Unsalted nuts

Avoid Alcohol, Sugary Drinks  and Processed Foods

When choosing something to drink, steer clear of alcohol, sodas, and sports drinks. Remember, water is your friend! After all, it takes up 70% of your body. Keep fully hydrated to replace any water you may lose from sweat.

In addition to avoiding sugary drinks and alcohol, we recommend cutting down on highly processed foods. Look for items low in trans fats and sodium. 

Heart-Healthy Tip #2: Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps keep the body strong and the heart healthy! Too often, seniors forego exercise when moving gets more difficult. However, frequent exercise is crucial for continued health. It prolongs the ability to live alone, reduces the risk of falling, and helps control joint pain. Exercise also helps maintain a healthy heart rate and blood pressure. A healthy heart rate varies by age, but most adults should maintain between 60 and 100bpm when resting.  Try these small ways to get a little extra exercise every day:

  • When running errands, park farther away from the door and walk instead. 

  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.

  • Get up and dance! You’ll be surprised how many calories you can burn from busting a move.

  • Love to watch TV? Walk or jog in place in your living room or place the TV in front of your treadmill. This way, you can enjoy your shows while getting in a daily workout.

  • Find a partner who will motivate you to work out more often and push you to try exercises that challenge you.

  • Try new activities to keep your workouts interesting.

  • Wear a pedometer to track your steps. Increase your target number each day.

  • See the importance of daily activities—mowing the lawn and walking through the mall count as exercise.

  • Start with simple exercises  and work up to harder ones. 

  • Always remember to stay hydrated and stretch before and after every workout! 

The Best Exercises for Heart Health to Try This Month

Exercise doesn’t have to involve going to the gym for hours. Seniors can get a good workout from the comfort of their home or their local community center. Here are some of the best exercises for heart health to work into your routine: 

  • Yoga: Enhance balance, strength, and flexibility with a quick yoga routine. This type of exercise is lots of fun to do in a group setting.  

  • Swimming: If you have access to a community pool, try swimming a few laps. Swimming is especially beneficial for those with knee, ankle, or hip problems. 

  • Walking: Simply going on frequent walks is a great way to exercise. It improves circulation and lowers blood pressure—not to mention, getting out into nature can be fun! After a meal, take your family on a walk together to resist the urge to overeat and grab a sweet treat. The best dessert will be spending more time together. 

Heart-Healthy Tip #3: Reduce Stress

Taking care of a sick or aging loved one can be stressful. All of this undue stress can be damaging to both your physical and mental health. It puts strain on the heart, increasing the chances of heart disease, and may lead to mood disorders like depression.  Because stress is more than just passing anxiety, taking steps to reduce it is essential. Here are a few strategies to help you take a deep breath and relieve some of your stress: 

  • Use a to-do list to organize everything you need to do each day. This will help you focus on your most important tasks at work, at home, and with your loved ones.

  • Slow down. There is no rush to do everything at once. Plan ahead of time for events or appointments so everyone is fully prepared.

  • Have “me” time. Everyone needs time to themselves. Spend at least 30-60 minutes a day with your phone on mute and doing something that makes you happy. This can be reading a book, painting, meditating, or any other self-care activities that relax you.

  • Make sure to get plenty of sleep Getting 6-8 hours each night can help reduce stress and depression. Can’t sleep? Regular exercise may help. Did you know smoking, along with alcohol and caffeine, can increase your stress levels? Smoking harms you as well as those around you. It increases your risk of serious conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer  . Kick these harmful habits today for a healthier tomorrow. Kick these harmful habits today for a healthier tomorrow. 

BrightStar Care Is Here for You

Maintaining heart health may require lifestyle changes, but the effort is well worth it. You’ll thank yourself in the long run for eating healthy, exercising regularly, and reducing unnecessary stress. Looking for in-home care services or assisted living for your loved one or a reliable medical staffing partner for your organization? Our experienced local care team members are ready to help. Find a location near you, contact us online, or call 866.618.7827 to speak with a local care expert and learn more about how BrightStar Care offers A Higher Standard®.