If your aging relative has heart disease, exercise is an important part of keeping them as healthy as possible and preventing another heart-related event. Exercise helps to strengthen the heart muscle. It also helps to manage other conditions that contribute to heart disease, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, when an older adult has heart disease, exercise needs to be done with a bit of extra caution.
Below are some tips for exercising safely with heart disease.
Talk to the Doctor
If it has been a long time since your older family member exercised regularly, they should talk to their doctor before starting. The doctor can tell them which kinds of exercises are safe for them and which should be avoided. For example, they may need to avoid exercises that involve straining the muscles, like doing pushups or lifting weights.
The older adult should start with less strenuous, shorter periods of exercise at first and work their way up toward their ultimate goal. It’s okay to start as slowly as they need. If a short walk to the end of the block is all they can manage at first, that’s fine. Just continue to take that walk regularly until they are able to walk a little further and a little faster. If they keep exercising, they will eventually be able to do much more.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
Many older adults enjoy walking for exercise, which usually means walking outside around their neighborhood. That’s a great way to exercise, but they should avoid exercising in extreme temperatures. When it is too hot or too cold, circulation can be affected. Heat and cold can also make it harder to breathe and could cause chest pain. On hot or cold days, older adults should choose an indoor space for exercise. Consider taking them to a mall where they can walk in a temperature-controlled environment.
Resume Slowly After Breaks
If your aging relative takes a break from exercising for a while because of an illness or a vacation, they should not expect to jump back in from where they left off. Instead, they should start back slowly and work back up to where they were.
Home care services providers can assist older adults with heart disease to exercise safely and regularly. A home care services provider can walk with the senior and watch for signs of distress. Home care services providers can also drive the senior to an exercise class designed for older adults where they might feel safer and meet others their age. In addition, a home care services provider can offer support and encouragement as the senior works toward their fitness goals.