February is American Heart Health Month! Heart disease affects millions of Americans each year, especially older adults. The good news is that starting new, heart-healthy behaviors can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. If you’re looking for some structure and support to help launch a new heart-healthy lifestyle, consider joining an independent retirement community, which can connect you with like-minded older adults and resources that can help you succeed. Here are some ways a community can help contribute to a heart-healthy future:
- Safety and security help you get plenty of sleep. Poor sleep patterns can affect your blood pressure and blood sugar, but sticking to a regular sleep schedule can dramatically improve your health. Older adults need at least eight hours of sleep per night. In order to get a restful night’s sleep, create a set sleep schedule and avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Those at independent retirement communities tend to have fewer worries about security, safety, and overall maintenance than those living on their own. This can help contribute to getting the sleep you need to stay healthy.
- Exercise made easy. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, three times a week can help protect against cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. In an independent retirement community, there are many ways to get exercise, whether it’s a trip to the on-site fitness center on your own, taking a group class, or taking advantage of the outdoor trails, which are perfect for walking, biking, or even a light jog.
- Social support comes with community. Decreasing stress and anxiety can help lower your risk for heart disease, and one way to reduce stress is by connecting with others through shared interests. Independent retirement communities organize a variety of group activities, such as continuing education classes, pet visits, book clubs, trips to the theater, and more! When you join one of these communities, new friends and activities are never more than a step away. That’s great for your social life, and your heart.
- Healthy eating habits. A proper diet can be the key to a healthy heart, but such a diet can be difficult to maintain when you’re cooking for yourself. Independent retirement communities make it easy to follow a heart-healthy diet by offering multiple dining options with nutritious, balanced, and appetizing meals served at times that are convenient for you. Many communities also have on-site nutritionists ready to help guide you toward healthier choices.