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Study Suggests Proper Exercise Can Reverse Damage from Heart Aging

Atheer – External Sources

Exercise can reverse damage to sedentary, aging hearts and help prevent risk of future heart failure, provided that the exercise is sufficient and if it’s begun in time, say cardiologists at UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources.

According to Science Daily, in order for people to reap the most benefit, the exercise regimen should be started before the age of 65, when the heart retains plasticity and the ability to remodel itself. The exercise needs to be performed four to five times a week, with researchers discovering that two to three times per week was not sufficient.

The regimen included exercising four to five times a week for half hour sessions. One of the weekly sessions included a high-intensity thirty minute workout, in addition to one hour long session per week. One or two of the other sessions were performed at a moderate intensity, meaning the participant would break a sweat, be a little short of breath, but still be able to carry on a conversation. Finally one or two weekly strength training sessions included weights or exercise machines.

Study participants began the programme with three, thirty minute, moderate exercise sessions for the first three months and peaked at ten months when two high-intensity aerobic intervals were added.

At the end of the two-year study, those who had exercised showed an 18 percent improvement in their maximum oxygen intake during exercise and a more than 25 percent improvement in compliance, or elasticity, of the left ventricular muscle of the heart.

Sedentary aging can lead to a stiffening of the muscle in the heart’s left ventricle, the chamber that pumps oxygen-rich blood back out to the body, explained senior author Dr. Benjamin Levine, Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern.

“When the muscle stiffens, you get high pressure and the heart chamber doesn’t fill as well with blood. In its most severe form, blood can back up into the lungs. That’s when heart failure develops.”

Earlier research by UT Southwestern cardiologists showed that left ventricular stiffening often shows up in middle aged people who don’t exercise and aren’t fit, leaving them with small, stiff chambers that can’t pump blood as well.

However, the researchers also found that the heart chamber in competitive masters-level athletes remains large and elastic and that even four to five days of committed exercise over decades is enough for noncompetitive athletes to reap most of this benefit.

In the current study, researchers wanted to know if exercise can restore the heart’s elasticity in previously sedentary individuals, especially if begun in late middle age. Previous studies from Dr. Levine’s research programme have shown substantial improvements in cardiac compliance in young individuals after a year of training, but surprisingly little change if the training was started after the age of 65.

*Image taken from Google

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