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2006 N 1st Ave Ste 205 , Anoka, MN 55303

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Steps Toward Lowering the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Seniors

Steps Toward Lowering the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Seniors


Many of us believe that significant changes are necessary to improve our health. However, making small changes that may prevent a major health event can have significant benefits as we age. Cardiovascular disease is prevalent among seniors, with 35% of those aged 65-74 and 59% of those aged 75-84 affected. Taking preventive steps can lead to a more active and independent lifestyle as we age. Research shows that even simple activities like walking can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Elder couple walking together at the park

Cardiovascular disease covers an array of conditions according to the American Heart Association.  It includes Heart Attack, Stroke, Heart Failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.  Most of these problems are related to atherosclerosis a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can block the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke, a published study in the journal Circulation confirmed that taking more daily steps for seniors was associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The positive effects of physical activity include the following:

  •   More prolonged independence.
  •   Higher self-esteem.
  •   A better quality of life.
  •   Realizing joy in everyday moments.

More good news: no additional gym equipment is required, just a comfortable pair of shoes.  Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new health regimen--including walking.  

How can seniors count steps?

Smart Phones Can Help Track Steps

Today more seniors are adopting technology and smartphones. The Apple Health app on iPhones and the Google Fit app on Android phones are examples of pedometers already integrated into the smartphone. If you are more adventurous you can step up to a Smart Watch that can help you track a wider variety of exercises including, biking, working out, and more.  They can even report your location and summon help if you experience a medical emergency or fall.  However, you don't need technology to count steps, the old-fashioned way works too, and it's easy; remember, 1 mile equals 2,252 steps when strolling.  You still may need a pedometer to do the counting--unless you like keeping track of steps in your head!  

Creative ways for seniors to incorporate steps into each day

My family competes on their smartphone apps to see who can get the most steps in a day.  My retired sister consistently is the winner often with over 10,000 steps beating out the rest of the working family--here are some of her methods to keep it going.

  •   Create or join a neighborhood walking group.  walk at a local mall or shopping center, as these are frequent senior walking destinations during the winter months
  •   A walk to the store instead of driving and picking up something special for dinner
  •   Meet a friend for a cup of coffee, but walk to the coffee shop
  •   Tour different neighborhoods.  
  •   Give up the newspaper delivery and take a walk to the store daily to pick it up.
  •   Get your spouse to join you!

Some other ideas you may want to try

  •   Meet a friend for a movie and take a walk together afterward
  •   Go to a lake, we have 10,000 of them, and take a stroll to enjoy the day
  •   Invite the grandkids over and take a walk together
  •   Schedule walks onto the calendar, making it a habit and something to look forward to
  •   Join Silver Sneakers and walk at a local fitness center--a lot of seniors are doing this and you can make new friends!  For most people it's free!
  •   When talking to a friend on the phone, suggest continuing the conversation in person and on a walk
  •   Take a walk while talking on the phone and catching up with friends and family--be safe and keep your eyes on the trail!
  •   Get to know your neighborhood and walk a different way each day
  •   Create a playlist of favorite songs to listen to while walking
  •   Download an audiobook or podcast and listen while enjoying a walk
  •   Pick up a bird-watching book and see how many there are to find in the neighborhood while on a walk

Helping take the first step  

There can be a lot of other issues facing seniors before they take that first walk.  An encouraging family member or friend can help motivate getting started.  Perhaps the first step is just walking to the end of the driveway to get the mail and you build it up from there.  Not every day will be as good as the day before so expect some setbacks.  Tracking steps can help you see how you are doing long-term.  Click here to see some other senior-friendly exercise ideas.  Take it easy--but remember it's worth it!



American Heart Association

Circulation Magazine

National Institute for Health

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