Exercise Can Reverse Damage to the Heart Caused by a Sedentary Lifestyle

A new study has measured and concluded that exercise can reverse damage to the heart caused by a sedentary lifestyle. As we now a sedentary lifestyle has as big of an effect on our health as smoking. Sedentary lifestyle is one where the individual does not engage in any significant physical activity. Both home and work life is spent with little to no physical excretion of activity. Live a life long enough where you ride a desk at work and sit on the couch at home and it will have a huge negative affect on your health.

The authors of this study have previously shown that sedentary seniors have small, stiff left ventricles similar to those in patients with heart failure and preserved ejection fraction. Whereas older, competitive Masters athletes who trained at least 6 days a week over their lifetime have large, healthy left ventricles that look like those of a healthy 30-year-old. They also know that after starting a moderate intensity exercise program in a group of seniors with the mean age of 70, there was no change in left ventricle stiffness. They decided to look at a younger group of sedentary individuals ages 45-64 to determine if a moderate intensity exercise program could change the stiffness of their left ventricles.

The study participants were  randomly assigned to 2 years of yoga and balance training or a moderate intensity, supervised exercise training program four to five times a week. At 2 years, maximal oxygen uptake, a measure of exercise capacity, increased 18% in the exercise group and decreased 1.0% among controls, the yoga and balance training group. Left ventricle stiffness was reduced in the exercise group, with no change in controls. Exercise training lowered participants’ heart rate from 63 to 58 beats/min, while heart rate remained constant at 64 beats/min in the control group. Blood pressure was unchanged in either group.

This study shows that adding exercise, at ages 45-64, can improve heart function and actually reverse the damage done to the heart by a sedentary life. The authors of this study mention:

“Instead of just paying for pills, what our medical-industrial complex should pay for is the infrastructure to support physical activity. Why should the physical therapist be paid for someone after they have a knee operation but not be paid when someone has reduced physical activity on their Physical Activity Vital Sign?”

This is great news for anyone thinking it might be too late to make a change in habits to help their heart health. Past a point, 70 years old, adding exercise unfortunately wont cause this reversal in damage but is still a positive thing to do. Under 70, though, in the 45-65 year range adding exercise can reverse the damage a lifetime of sedentary living caused on your heart. This will not just add years to your life but add to the quality of your years.

Need help in finding an exercise program right for you? Whether it is helping you get rid of any pain limiting your ability to exercise of helping you find a program that fits your needs, we can help.

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Posted in Exercise and Fitness

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