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It's never too late to start heart-healthy workouts, from the April 2014 Harvard Heart Letter

Even for people who've gone many years without exercising, there are compelling reasons to get active, no matter what their age, reports the April 2014 Harvard Heart Letter.

"The fitter and more active you become, the longer you'll live and less heart disease you'll have," says Dr. Aaron Baggish, a cardiologist and fitness expert at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

He suggests that people first start exercising by moving whenever possible, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Next, he asks his patients to identify times during the day they can exercise and what resources they have at their disposal. For example, does their workplace or senior center have a fitness facility, or do they have access to a safe place to walk, no matter the weather?

People in the 60- to 80-year-old age group should spend 80% of their workout doing moderate aerobic activity. That can be anything from brisk walking, cycling, or dancing, to a Zumba class. For the remaining 20% of the time, it's a good idea to focus on strength training. This can be done at a gym but can also be done at home — no weights needed. Try squats, push-ups, and arm reaches. Work toward a goal of exercising for one hour, five times a week.

For those with no particular health concerns, a program of moderate walking and strength training is a safe way to go. Those who have heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or other muscle or bone problems should talk to a doctor before starting. Take it easy at first, and ramp up to a more intense level gradually. "Most of all, remember that something is better than nothing and there is no age when it's too late to start," says Dr. Baggish.

Read the full-length article: "The best heart-healthy workouts for your 60s, 70s, and 80s"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Heart Letter

  • The best heart healthy workouts for your 60s 70s and 80s
  • Ask the doctor: Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
  • Ask the doctor: Calcium-channel blockers and cancer risk
  • Think FAST to recall the warning signs of a stroke
  • Take nitroglycerin to ease-and avoid-a common heart disease symptom
  • The diabetes-heart disease connection and what it means for you
  • PAD It is a pain in the leg
  • Back on your feet: Tips for recovering from cardiac surgery
  • Research we're watching: Many heart transplant recipients survive 20 years
  • Research we are watching: Tend your garden and home .. and your heart?
  • Research we're watching: Obesity paradox? Just a myth

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.