For children, physical activity is a given – sports programs, recess on the playground, and impromptu games of tag with friends naturally give the heart a workout and keep it healthy. But as we age, a more sedentary lifestyle can begin to take hold – having serious repercussions on that oh-so-important muscle, such as stiffness, a reduced efficiency in oxygen production, and an increased risk of heart disease and failure.
But a recent study is pointing to the surprising and encouraging news that those who change their sedentary lifestyle patterns in midlife can actually turn the clock back on their heart health, achieving the same heart efficiency as a 30-year-old.
The research, led by Dr. Ben Levine of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, studied healthy but sedentary adults ages 45 – 64, implementing moderate- to high-intensity exercise in half of the group, while the other half engaged in nonaerobic exercise only.
The results were dramatically different between the two groups, with the aerobic exercisers achieving more heart flexibility, less stiffness, and increased oxygen production. The nonaerobic group’s hearts remained unchanged.
As Dr. Levine explains, “The sweet spot in life to get off the couch and start exercising is in late middle age when the heart still has plasticity. You may not be able to reverse the aging of the vessels if you wait.”
Want to incorporate more exercise into your life or that of your senior loved ones? Contact the Kalamazoo home care professionals at Home Sweet Home In-Home Care. We can provide dependable, highly skilled respite care to allow family members the opportunity to take much-needed time for exercise. And, we can motivate older adults to remain physically active as well! Contact us to learn more.