Healthy Heart Challenge: Total-Body Cardio and Strength Workout

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Today, we’re combining two of our favorite types of exercise for more heart benefits — and double the fun.

Keep up with the 7-Day Healthy Heart Challenge here. 

All types of physical activity are beneficial — even ones you don’t tend to count, like gardening and housework. When it comes to focusing on your heart health specifically, however, there are two kinds of exercise that are especially powerful: cardio and strength training. 

Cardio exercise boosts the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system by raising your heart rate and your breathing. It helps your heart deliver blood and oxygen to muscles more efficiently. In short, it’s exercising your heart muscle.

Strength training is perhaps best known for building muscle. The reason why it’s so important for older adults, though, is that it also guards against age-related muscle loss. Not only that, but for individuals who are carrying excess body fat — which is a risk factor for heart disease — strength training helps reduce fat while creating leaner muscle mass, according to a report from Johns Hopkins Medicine. It’s also crucial for keeping your bones strong as you get older.   

Put cardio and strength together, and this powerful workout combo helps make your everyday activities easier and more enjoyable, says SilverSneakers LIVE trainer Shannon Thigpen.   

The cherry on top? Doing two to three cardio and strength workouts a week helps support your joints and improve your balance, Thigpen adds. 

It’s no wonder, then, that a team of researchers in Europe found that just 15 minutes of daily exercise was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of death. They had set out to find the sweet spot of physical activity to help motivate more older adults to sit less and move more. Their findings were reported in the journal of the European Society of Cardiology 

Get and stay fit with SilverSneakers! Choose from dozens of different Community classes, visit a participating fitness location, or join one of 20+ SilverSneakers LIVE online classes. Check your eligibility here. 

How to Use the Total-Body Cardio and Strength Workout 

For today’s Healthy Heart Challenge workout (above), you’ll need a sturdy chair and a pair of light hand weights. If you don’t have dumbbells at home, you can use two water bottles or cans of food — or do the exercises using your own bodyweight. 

Wear a pair of comfortable, supportive sneakers and make sure you have open floor space with plenty of room to move. Set yourself up near a wall if you’d like extra support. And have some water handy. 

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As always, safety is key. Get your doctor’s OK before beginning a new exercise program. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.  

Thigpen suggests doing this workout two to three times a week. 

Love this and want more? Try a SilverSneakers LIVE Circuit Express Class! 

Jump start your fitness in just 15 minutes. Explore short cardio and strength segments to build overall endurance. Weights, tubing, and soft play ball are recommended but not required. View the schedule and RSVP here. 

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SilverSneakers members can go to thousands of gyms and fitness locations across the nation, plus take SilverSneakers LIVE online classes that are designed for seniors of all levels. If you have a Medicare plan, it may include SilverSneakers—at no additional cost. Check your eligibility instantly here.  

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