Regular exercise that gets your blood pumping is important for people of all ages, but older adults in particular have a lot to gain. Cardio can strengthen your heart and lungs, boost your energy, and even reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. To help you tap into these benefits, we asked Sam Casmey, Manager of Adult Health & Fitness Programs here at the YMCA of Greater Toronto, for some tips to safely get your heart rate up at home.

Moderate exercise for just 30 minutes a day makes a big difference for your health. And by “moderate exercise,” I don’t mean you need to take a wild bootcamp class! I mean moving your body in any way that feels good to you. You’ll get pretty much the same benefits whether you get your daily half-hour of movement in all at once, or break it up in a few short sessions. For instance, you could try three 10-minute bouts of exercise, spread over a whole day. So, there’s no need to push beyond your limits in one sitting!

Try these cardio activities at home

The important thing with both of these activities is just to move your body, get your heart pumping, and stay pain-free. If you do start feeling any pain, go back to the basics — whatever sort of movement you were doing that wasn’t painful.

1. Put on your favourite song, and start moving! Just like with the balance exercises I shared in another article, you can start simple and take it up a notch when you’re ready.

2. Start sitting down, with your arms extended in front of you, or out to the sides. Start moving them in small circles. Once that feels comfortable, challenge yourself by making your circles a little bigger. If that feels good, add your legs. You can stay sitting, or stand up and continue moving your arms and legs.

It doesn’t really matter what movements you’re doing, as long as you’re warming up your body and feeling good. Remember that every day is going to feel different. Your energy, balance, and range of motion will fluctuate. Don’t get discouraged — it’s totally normal! Instead, check in with yourself, get a feel for where your body’s at today, and do what feels right.

Get moving with one of our free online classes

Cardio is especially fun when you do it with other people and good music! This might seem like a bit of a challenge while we practice physical distancing, but don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Our low-impact online classes will get your heart rate up, all from the comfort of your home. Join us on YouTube for your choice of live or pre-recorded fitness classes like Soothing Yoga, Bodyfit Chair, Bodyfit Gentle, Chair Yoga, and Arriba.

Sam Casmey has an honours BSc in kinesiology from the University of Waterloo and is a YMCA Canada Trainer Educator. She’s currently the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Manager of Health & Fitness Adult Programs. In the 20 years she’s been working at the Y, Sam’s taught thousands of fitness classes and trained hundreds of volunteers to teach classes including Arriba, MuscleFit, Bootcamp, and many more. She’s currently spending her time on Sudoku, cryptic crosswords, and books on habits and behaviour change.