There is yet another reason to get up off your couch and take part in an energetic cardiovascular workout: it can help you live longer, even if you start exercising late. The findings, based on research by scientists at the American College of Cardiology, found fitness to be a more important predictor of survival than traditional risk factors – including high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. Although all these factors are strongly related to heart disease, their significance, say scientists, pales in comparison to whether or not you are active.
How did Scientists Make this Discovery?
Researchers looked into medical records of over 6,500 people aged 70+ who underwent a cardiovascular stress test between 1991 and 2009. The outcomes of this exercise-based test revealed patients’ respective fitness levels. Researchers tracked the patients for 10 years, during which 39% passed away. Their results showed that those who had performed better on cardiovascular testing were twice as likely to still be alive. They therefore recommend that doctors look into their patients’ fitness levels in addition to cardiovascular risk factors, since this is a low-cost, low-technology, yet important way of assessing risk.
Is it Too Late to Start?
It is truly never too late to embrace cardiovascular exercise and incorporate it into your routine. If you are a senior who has been inactive for a few years, the first step should be to consult your doctor about an appropriate routine. In general, it is recommended that seniors ease into a routine, starting off with low-to-moderate exercise. As noted by HomeFitnessJourney, treadmills or ellipticals can be a good place to start. This is because pace and inclination can be controlled. Many types of gym equipment also contain technology that measures heart rate and calories burned – so that seniors can set new goals periodically. Seniors who enjoy working out in the Great Outdoors can start out with walking, swimming, water aerobics, and outdoor yoga. Generally, it is recommended that senior aged 65 or older obtain at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week (around half an hour a day), or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Strength and Cardio Count
In addition to cardio, seniors should consider strength training at least twice a week. By keeping muscle levels up, they can protect their joints and bones and increase their strength. After the age of 50, human beings tend to lose 1% to 2% of their muscles mass every year. After 60, they lose 3%. A 2017 study by researchers at Wake Forest University additionally found that seniors wishing to lose weight should make weight training a focal point of their workout. They saw that total fat loss among participants to the study was higher when the latter combined cardio plus walking and diet plus weight training, than when they only dieted. Researchers also discovered that loss of muscle results in weaker knees.
If you are a senior and you are would like to live longer and stay at a healthy weight, know that it is never too late to start a cardio-plus-strength training routine. Your doctor is your first step, but your second can definitely be a gym consultant or personal trainer. By starting out gently and consistently increasing your fitness, you can feel stronger and more vital in just weeks – and your mental health will thank you for it too!
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