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The importance of heart health, especially with age

Amy Riggins

Good morning, Shawnee!  I hope this finds you healthy and well!  As I mentioned before,  February is American Heart Month, sponsored by the American Heart Association, and they put a special emphasis on heart health.  This focus is also highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.

Heart health is important for all ages, but especially as we grow older.  While heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, it is also preventable  and controllable.  Read on for a better understand of how you can take steps to lower your risk of heart disease.

There are many forms of heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease.  The most common is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).  The coronary arteries are the ones which pump blood and oxygen to the heart muscle itself.  With CAD, the arteries become blocked, usually from fatty deposits or plaque build-up inside artery walls.  This can cut off the blood supply to the heart, resulting in a heart attack.

Other types of heart  conditions include high blood pressure, arrhythmia, vascular issues, aortic aneurysms, valve dysfunctions, and heart infections. While it might seem unpleasant to talk about all these possible heart problems during the same month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, the good news is you can take steps to help lower your risk of developing heart disease.

The leading risks of heart disease are smoking, consuming a high fat diet, physical inactivity, and excess weight.  While there are other factors and risks beyond our control, these top four are definitely reversible.  Taking steps to overcome tobacco addiction, lowering the intake of fatty foods, becoming more active, and losing weight are all ways we can reduce our risk of developing heart disease and increase the quality of our lives.

You can learn more about heart health and heart disease on the following websites:

American Heart Association:

Centers for Disease Control:

National Institutes of Health

You can also access free health information at the Shawnee Library.  Just ask one of the librarians for assistance.

We continue to offer fitness classes at both the Community Center, 804 S. Park, and the Senior Center, 401 N. Bell.  Each of our classes are designed for all fitness levels and are free, drop-in opportunities for individuals aged 55+.  Here are your options:

Fitness Classes offered at the Community Center:

Chair Fitness: Flexibility & Stretching with Angie, Monday & Wednesday, 11:00-11:45 a.m.  These gentle stretching exercises and yoga poses can all be completed while seated in a chair.  Designed to help with flexibility, increasing breathing, and circulation.  

Chair Fitness with Angie, Tuesday & Thursday, 11:00-11:45 a.m.  A basic exercise program designed for strength and increased circulation.  All exercises can be performed while seated in a chair.  

Fitness Classes offered at the Senior Center:

Enhance Fitness with Beth, Monday, Wednesday,  & Friday, 8:30-9:30 a.m.  Combination of cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, strength training, and balance enhancement.  

Tai Chi for Better Balance with Cyndi, Tuesday & Thursday, 8:15-9:15 a.m.  8 basic Tai Chi movements designed for balance, core strength, relaxation, and stress reduction.  

Restorative Stretching with Angie, Monday-Wednesday, 9:40-10:40 a.m.  These gentle stretching exercises and yoga poses will help with flexibility, muscle strength, and increasing breathing and circulation.

Forever Strong with Angie, Tuesday-Thursday, 9:30-10:30 a.m. A basic strength and toning class. These exercises will help with overall body conditioning. 

Tai Chi for Better Balance with Randy, Monday-Wednesday, 4:00-4:45 p.m. 8 basic Tai Chi movements designed for balance, core strength, relaxation, and stress reduction.

If you have any questions about our senior fitness program or would like advice on which fitness class to try, please contact us at 405-878-1528 or

The Senior Center is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can call us at 405-878-1528.  The Community Center is open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., and you can call 405-275-4530 for more information about the Project Heart lunch program.

The Senior Center will be closed Monday, February 17 for Presidents Day.  The Community Center will be open that day, serving lunch at noon. We hope you come by for a visit at either location soon!

Be sure to tune in to hear more about Shawnee Senior Happenings on the “Mike in the Morning” Show aired each Wednesday mornings at 8:35 a.m. on KGFF 1040 AM/100.9 FM.

As always, we look forward to seeing YOU at one of our CENTERS!