Scientists Track Exercise Steps to Keep Hearts Young
By Sandy Schroeder
We know exercise and heart health go together, but now researchers are zeroing in on key specifics. Scientists say we may be able to slow down the heart’s aging process with the right amount of exercise, according to Quartz Media.
What They Found
New research in the Journal of Physiology outlines the exercise needed to slow down the stiffening of arteries, which raises the risk of heart disease.
Scientists found medium-sized arteries in the head and neck need 30 minutes of exercise 2-3 days per week to minimize artery stiffening. Larger arteries that carry blood to the abdomen and chest need the same type of exercise 4-5 times per week.
This research came from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Researchers wanted to know how much exercise would prevent the heart and blood vessels from aging.
The researchers studied 102 people who were older than 60, and had exercised all of their lives. They measured artery stiffness and divided individuals into four groups based on their activity levels: Sedentary (exercised less than twice a week), casual (2 to 3 times), committed (4 to 5 times) and master athletes (6 to 7 times) a week.
The results indicated people with a lifetime record of casual exercise had younger middle-sized arteries, and individuals who exercised 4 to 5 times a week had younger central arteries.
Research study author, Benjamin Levine, MD, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said, “This work is really exciting because it enables us to develop exercise programs to keep the heart youthful, and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels.”
Where We Are Now
This research is sure to inspire more studies on heart health and exercise, which is one of the nation’s most critical health issues. Each year more than 735,000 Americans have a heart attack, and 28 percent of those are a second heart attack, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What It Means for Us
When we look at these new recommendations for heart health, we may want to make more room for daily exercise and good diet management. Starting with 30 minutes of daily walking, jogging, or gym workouts and eating healthier could be the smartest things we do all day for ourselves and our families.
As you learn about the best ways to keep your heart healthy, start with your doctor to shape the right plan for you.
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