Even though Valentine’s Day is behind us, the heart remains the focus of February – not the candy kind, but the one that keeps us alive. February is American Heart Month, and Club Bethesda encourages older adults to keep their heart healthy and protected from disease.
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle – including being physically active – can help people avoid, delay or possibly reverse the risk of heart disease, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Club Bethesda – a fitness and wellness facility designed for older adults and located on Bethesda’s main campus – is open to all people age 50 and older living in Willmar and the surrounding area.
“Club Bethesda is equipped with state-of-the-art exercise machines that are geared toward older adults. We also offer fitness classes for every fitness level, as well as a warm-water pool for exercise,” said Melissa Wentzel, wellness director at Club Bethesda. “We will work with you to develop a fitness plan that’s right for you and your activity level.”
Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women, according to the National Institute on Aging, American Heart Month is an ideal time review the risks, as well as look at how adults can lower their risk.
Risks of heart disease
People have a higher risk of heart disease if they have: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, prediabetes or diabetes, a family history of early heart disease, a history of preeclampsia, unhealthy eating behaviors, or are overweight, smoke, do not get regular physical activity, or are older (age 55+ for women or age 45+ for men). Each risk factor increases a person’s chance of developing heart disease, according to the National Institute on Aging. Heart disease can limit activity and erode the quality of life of millions of older people.
Some risk factors cannot be changed, but many others can be modified. For example, being more physically active is an important factor in maintaining a healthy heart.
According to a study in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, adults age 65 who maintain or boost their level of physical activity can improve their heart’s electrical well-being and lower their risk of heart attack, according to Dr. Luisa Soares-Miranda, lead author of the study.
“Any physical activity is better than none, but maintaining or increasing your activity has added heart benefits as you age,” Soares-Miranda said.
While people should talk to their doctor about their own risk for heart disease and how they can lower their risk, the National Institute on Aging suggests people:
- Be physically active: If possible, aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.
- If you smoke, quit: Quitting, even in later life, can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet: Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber and low in sodium and added sugar.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Balance the calories you eat and drink with the calories you burn.
- Keep diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol under control: Follow your doctor’s advice to manage these conditions and take medications as directed.
- Limit alcohol intake: Men should not have more than two drinks a day and women only one.
- Manage stress: Learn to relax and cope with problems.
In addition to exercise machines, Club Bethesda offers a variety of land and aquatic fitness classes for older adults to remain active and reduce their risk of health problems.
“Physical activity can help people lower their risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and Alzheimer’s, and several types of cancer,” Wentzel said. “Come try our exercise machines or attend one of our classes, and take care of your heart.”
Put a Little Love in Your Heart, and contact Club Bethesda at (320) 214-5647 or view the Club Bethesda page on this website for information about membership options and how Club Bethesda can help you take care of your heart.
Bethesda is a not-for-profit social ministry organization dedicated to serving seniors in West Central Minnesota through residential and community-based health and wellness services. Bethesda has been caring for seniors for more than 100 years. We provide a full continuum of care, including skilled nursing care, short-stay therapy centers, home health care, outpatient therapy, independent and assisted living, adult day services, and a wellness center.