- Zumba and other Aerobic Dance Programs
- Swimming And Water Aerobics
- Elliptical Trainers and Rowing Machines
- Stretching and Balance
I’ve always been a huge fan of a brisk walk, which is a low-impact form of exercise that will provide you with all the cardiovascular benefits you need. This means that you are less likely to suffer the occasional injuries and aches that go along with running or jogging. Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners’ Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers’ Health Study. The results, which were published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, found that the energy used for moderate-intensity walking and vigorous running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over a six-year period. When it comes to walking, one hour a day will suit your cardiovascular needs. But even if you can only start out with 10 minutes, get started. You can gradually increase to an hour by adding five minutes a day each week.
Many women have turned to Zumba, a Latin- infused dance program, for their cardiovascular workout. It is a cardiovascular workout that can provide variety when combined with other exercises, such as a walking. There is also a version of Zumba, called “Zumba Gold,” for those who have reached their “Golden” years.
Another great way to get cardiovascular exercise is swimming, which can be enjoyed no matter what your age. In fact, swimming is especially good for older people with arthritis, as the natural buoyancy of the water buffers joints. Unless you’re an experienced swimmer, you may not be able to perform the kind of sustained swim that gives you the same benefit that walking does. Still, a few lessons may increase your stamina and enjoyment.
If you don’t swim, water aerobics classes are an excellent alternative. These classes combine aerobic exercise in shallow water with the opportunity for low-impact activity.
The elliptical trainer allows you to move in a natural way that is much like running. But your feet are fixed to pedals that never touch the ground, avoiding joint-stressing impact. Some machines have adjustable ramps and arm handles, to add intensity. You can also pedal backward for variety. Rowing machines also provide excellent cardiovascular exercise because they work the large muscle groups in the legs and the shoulders, but also build strength as well. The benefit of this machine is hat it is a seat-based exercise that works well for the elderly. Combine both for a great full-body cardiovascular workout.
Simple stretching exercises include turning your neck from one side to the other or extending your shoulders by standing against a wall with your hands down, and then turning them forward and raising them up to shoulder height or doing a variety of chair exercises. Balance exercises include standing on one foot, heel-to-toe walking, doing balance walking, and simple sit-to-stand exercises.
The National Institute on Aging offers a variety of exercise guides for Americans, including a free 120-page guide that can be downloaded on your computer or ordered as a print copy for free.