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Planning Retirement Online

Keeping your heart healthy

October 2016

heart with electrocardiogram

Regular exercise has a host of benefits, including keeping your heart healthy and strong. If you're keen to exercise more, personal trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read has developed a set of heart-friendly exercise plans suitable for different age groups.

Being active at all ages is great for your overall health but has particular benefits for the heart. The heart is a muscle and needs a good supply of exercise to help it stay in good shape and be able to pump blood around the body.

Why is exercise important for the heart?

According to the British Heart Foundation, numerous studies have found that exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, with active people half as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease as inactive people.


Exercise in your 40s and 50s

In your 40s and 50s, the focus should be on maintaining your heart health and looking and feeling great. Exercising helps reduce stress, lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and promote good circulation.

The Maintenance Home Workout

This maintenance home workout routine increases and maintains heart health, as well as improving strength and fitness.

You need:

  • a mat or towel
  • a pair of small hand weights (two tins of soup work just as well)

Perform 20 repetitions of each exercise, before moving on to the next exercise:

  • Exercise 1 - 20x on-the-spot marches
  • Exercise 2 - 20x alternating knee lifts
  • Exercise 3 - 20x standing bicep curls (hold weights or tins in each hand, with arms straight down by your sides; bend your elbows and lift your hands up to your shoulders, before slowly lowering back down)
  • Exercise 4 - 20x calf raises (stand with your feet hip width apart and slowly raise up onto your toes, lifting your heels off the floor and holding for a second before lowering)
  • Exercise 5 - 20x small jumps (jump forwards, then backwards)

When you've completed the circuit once, repeat again with 16 repetitions, then a final set of eight repetitions.

Other good cardiovascular exercises include:

  • cycling
  • gym sessions
  • jogging
  • Pilates
  • sports such as tennis, badminton, rounders and netball
  • walking


Exercise for 60s and over

Looking after your heart health in your 60s and beyond can be achieved by keeping active every day. As well as strengthening your heart, it will boost energy levels too.

The Energy Booster Home Workout

This special workout helps improve your heart health, circulation and reduce blood pressure. The two exercise phases should be completed at different points in the day.

Phase 1 - Walking. Aim to walk briskly for 15-20 minutes; increase your walking time as you become fitter.

Phase 2 - Four gentle toning exercises to help the major muscle groups. You'll need a chair and hand weights (or two tins).

  • Exercise 1 - 10x seated squats (sit in the chair, then slowly stand up; hold for a second, then slowly sit down)
  • Exercise 2 - 10x seated chest presses (holding your weights, place your hands by your shoulders with your elbows bent, then slowly extend both arms out in front of you, at shoulder height. Hold for a second, then release)
  • Exercise 3 - 10x seated leg extensions (sit with your weights resting on each thigh; slowly lift each foot up, straightening the leg and hold for a second)
  • Exercise 4 - 10x seated shoulder presses (using the weights, place both hands by your shoulders and slowly extend above your head; hold for a second)
  • Exercise 5 - 10x seated heel raises (sit with your weights on your thighs and feet hip-width apart; slowly lift your heels off the ground, hold for a second, then release)

Aim to exercise four to five times a week. Other good activities include:

  • ballroom dancing
  • cycling
  • nordic walking
  • Pilates
  • swimming
  • yoga



Want to find out more?

Jelf’s healthcare specialists can help put appropriate insurances in place to protect your health and wellbeing in later life. If you’d like to discuss any specific healthcare insurance requirements with one of Jelf’s healthcare advisers, simply:


This information is taken from an AXA PPP Healthcare article


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