The physical effects of aging are inevitable; even if we are healthy, our bones become weaker, body becomes stiffer, and cardiovascular system becomes less efficient. However, a recent study looked into potentially ‘reversing’ some of these latter effects.
Our ability to pump blood to the rest of our body is based upon the elasticity of our heart. The more we age, the less elastic our hearts become and the less that oxygenated blood can be delivered to the body per heartbeat. This stiffness, again, is inevitable. However, the study did find that sedentary yet otherwise heathy middle age individuals who committed to a long-term high-intensity aerobic exercise program saw positive changes in the elasticity of the heart (as compared to a low intensity exercise group). This was because the heart was forced to expand and adapt during this high intensity exercise and, according to Levine, responded by ‘reverse aging’ about 15-20 years.
The takeaway here is that even if you are in your mid-forties all the way to your mid-sixties, it is not too late to make a change and begin an exercise program. Not only will you be decreasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and several other risk factors, but you will actually be improving the overall function of you heart. As always, make sure you consult with a doctor before beginning a new exercise program and, if need be, begin at a more moderate intensity.
If you haven’t already, make the change today!
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Stephanie Spoto, CSCS