Can Your Heart Get Younger with Exercise?
As we get older, our bodies age – and so do our hearts. A recent study published by the American Heart Association demonstrated proof that exercise – or lack thereof – does impact your heart’s health.
During the two-year study, otherwise-healthy middle-age adults were evaluated and randomly assigned to a control group or an intensive exercise group. Their cardiac and overall health were routinely monitored throughout the two years.
At the end of the study, doctors determined that patients in the intensive exercise group had decreased cardiac stiffness and increased oxygen uptake. The patients in the control group had no change. Cardiac stiffness is attributed in part to inactivity and aging and can ultimately cause heart failure.
“While exercise can’t actually make the heart younger, it can reverse some of the damage that an inactive lifestyle causes,” says Dr. Saadeddine Dughman, a Cardiologist at the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute. “This study gives solid evidence of the positive impact that exercise has on the body.”
Dr. Dughman says the key is not waiting too long to get active. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is important at every age, but it’s critical by middle age when your heart is still able to reap the benefits.
“There’s no time like the present to get moving,” he says. “It’s not too late. Take a walk around the block, ride your bike, pick up that tennis racquet. Any activity is better for your heart than sitting on the couch.”
Start Improving Your Cardiac Health Today
According to the American Heart Association, the best things you can do for your cardiac health include:
- Be smart: read nutrition labels, pick low-sugar and low-sodium healthy foods and pay attention to portion size.
- Color it up: fruits and veggies of all colors should be a part of every meal – even snacks.
- Move it: don’t overthink it – just start moving. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of physical activity a week, but if that feels daunting, just start with finding an activity you like and doing that each day.
- Be well: being well includes mindfulness in all areas of life – sleep, stress management, connecting with others, staying fit and alert.
Incorporating these tips into your daily life can help to protect against the future risk of heart failure or stroke.
Your Partner in Cardiac Health
Not sure where to start? St. Elizabeth can help. Call the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute today at (859) 331-3353 to schedule an appointment with one of our cardiologists.