Protecting your heart’s strength and capacity may tend to get more attention at certain times of life or certain pages on the calendar, such as during your 40s or 50s or February as American Heart Month.
But the reality is it’s a year-round, lifelong activity easier to maintain the earlier you begin. But, it’s never too late to get started.
It’s a process your entire family — every generation — can share and encourage each other in. The basics of eating a healthy diet and getting healthy amounts of aerobic and muscle-bearing exercise are the same wherever you are in life or the calendar, but some of the specifics vary with age:
Kids and teens — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children younger than 18 get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Education about the dangers of smoking is essential.
20s — Adopt a regular workout schedule to establish the habit early, so it’ll be harder to break when there’s more demands on your time. Establish a relationship with a health care provider for yearly wellness exams and take any recommended tests or screenings.
30s — Incorporate heart-healthy behaviors such as exercise into your daily life, treating them as the essential building blocks they are. Involve your whole family in healthy exercise and meal preparation. Learn about any hereditary risk factors you may have.
40s — Be careful about weight gain that can accelerate as your metabolism slows, so make any dietary changes that are necessary. Either start an exercise regimen or stay dedicated to the one you have, finding new motivations along the way.
50s — Aging takes a toll on nearly every heart by this age, so see your doctor annually. Menopausal women should learn about the added risks they face due to falling hormone levels. Follow the treatment plan for any diagnosed conditions you have.
60s and beyond — Continue to watch your weight and make any further adjustments to your diet as needed, as your caloric requirements are likely lower than before. Learn the early warning signs of heart attack and stroke. Remember you are never too old to exercise!