Score another point for regular exercise. The heart… arguably the most vital organ in your body, is preserved in the elderly by lifelong, consistent exercise according to some surprising new research focusing on exercise for heart health. What’s even more impressive, the heart mass can match (or exceed) those of younger, healthy sedentary adults.
It appears that being active, regularly over a lifetime, works to preserve the youthful elasticity of the heart in old age. Every decade you spend on the couch decreases your heart muscle mass, but for those who get up and get moving – 6 to 7 times every week through their adult life – not only hold onto heart mass, but build it up as well. Lifelong exercisers ended up having a heart mass that was greater than healthy, but inactive, adults in the 25 to 34 age range.
The work included 121 healthy adults with no history of heart disease. Just about half (59) were sedentary participants who had been recruited out of the Dallas Heart Study that draws from a very large, multiethnic population in Dallas County. Just over half (62, all over 65) lifelong exercisers were recruited from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, a bit of work that’s documented the exercise habits of its participants over 25 years.
The researchers looked at the number of aerobic exercise sessions (walking, jogging, cycling) each week, and did not focus on either the intensity of the workout, or its duration, though most sessions were longer than 20 minutes.
The participants were divided into four groups, the non exercisers, casual (2/3 times a week) exercisers, committed (4/5 times per week) exercisers and master athletes (6/7 times per week). Heart mass measurements, obtained through MRIs showed that the sedentary subjects had less heart mass as they got older, while the lifelong exercisers had expansion.
Just four to five sessions a week… lasting over 20 minutes… brought a benefit.
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Proven: Improve, Preserve Heart Muscle Health By Doing This… Continued…
It’s a well known feature of the aging process, muscle mass is lost as the years pass, especially skeletal muscle according to Dr. Paul Bhella a cardiologist from John Peter Smith Hospital in Texas who presented the findings at the ACC conference, held this year in New Orleans. Experts are seeing that loss of muscle mass can also happen in the heart, and this makes it weaker, less able to do its job for the body.
The researchers contend that if medicine can identify those in middle age (45-60 years old) and get them up and moving four to five times a week, this could play a huge part in preventing some of the troublesome heart conditions of old age, even heart failure.
Making a commitment to consistent exercise, even in midlife, can bring benefits that last into old age.
The take home message from the work – exercise for heart health, over a lifetime is truly worth the effort. It might not be any big news flash, anything you didn’t already know… now you have confirmation that being active brings some pretty significant benefits – beyond looking great, having more energy and feeling fantastic. Science is only just finding out how very beneficial to the body activity really is.