Want to keep your heart young? A new study suggests the key is exercising.
Researchers with the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, both based in Dallas, found varying amounts of exercise can affect different sized-arteries.
For example, the study found exercising 2-3 days a week for 30 minutes may help minimize stiffening in middle-sized arteries, while larger central arteries will stay youthful when you exercises 4-5 days a week.
The aorta is the human body’s main artery, branching out into smaller ones to help deliver blood from the heart to the rest of your body. Mid-sized arteries supply blood to your head and neck, while larger ones provide blood to your chest and abdomen.
Researchers performed a cross-sectional examination of 102 people over 60 years old, who consistently logged lifelong exercise history. They were then categorized into four groups based on their activity: sedentary (exercise less than twice a week), casual exercisers (2-3 times), committed exercisers (4-5 times) and masters athletes (6-7 times).
Results showed people with a lifelong history of casual exercise had more youthful middle-sized arteries, and people who exercised 4-5 times per week had more youthful large central arteries.
“This work is really exciting because it enables us to develop exercise programs to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels,” said Benjamin Levine, one of the authors of the study and co-founder of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, in a statement.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease was the leading cause of death among Americans in 2015, the most recent year statistics were available. More than 633,000 people died of heart disease three years ago.
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