A study published in the Journal of Physiology has looked at exercise and the impact it has on the ageing process of the heart and blood vessels. Exercising 4 to 5 times a week is found to be best to stop the heart from stiffening up.
The research carried out looked at peoples exercise history and then measured the 'stiffness' of their arteries. Also known as "atherosclerosis" and "arteriosclerosis", the stiffness comes from the build up of fat on the inside of the artery walls. This causes not only the hardness of the artery, but creates a narrowing that can lead to medical complications.
The research also discovered that exercising two to three times a week led to more youthful-looking arteries, but people who exercised four to five times a week had even healthier arteries. The research did not however take other factors into account such as diet, social background and education, which all agree may have influenced the findings.
Arteries are the blood vessels which takes your blood away from your heart and around your body. Most of the arteries in the human body carry oxygenated blood which shows why it's so important to consider 'arterial health' to prevent complications. Some arteries carry deoxygenated blood, the pulmonary and the umbilical arteries, to organs that can oxygenate it.
As people age they stiffen naturally. If you live an unhealthy lifestyle then they can become blocked with fatty material. So what can we now do when we know that exercise can help keep our hearts healthy?
Research has also shown that to really see the benefits of exercise on your heart then you need to to follow an aerobic exercise routine. In research people who do this see a more then 25% improvement in the plasticity in the left ventricular muscle of the heart compared to people who do exercise but do more yoga and weight training.
The view is that if you exercise in late middle age and it’s the right type of exercise then you can correct problems you may have stored up for your heart from living a sedentary lifestyle. The best exercise routine was defined as at least one high intensity aerobic session per week, two or three days a week of moderate intensity exercise, one weekly strength training session and finally at least one long session of aerobic activity each week. This last activity could be something like playing tennis, running or walking briskly.
It seems pretty obvious, along with a dose of common sense, that this research proves that with exercise and a healthy diet it is possible to rejuvenate the cells in the heart so that we can prevent heart disease. The time that you start exercising however is crucial.
Ideally you need to be exercising before you are 65 to see the full benefits as after this age, it is believed to be harder for the heart to remodel itself.