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Exercise May Keep Your Blood Vessels Young

Exercising is one of the keys to healthy aging but when it comes to maintaining vascular health throughout the years how much exercise do you need? Researchers may have an answer, finding that exercising for more than 30 minutes four to five times a week may help reduce arterial stiffening, which restricts blood flow, raises blood pressure, and increases the risks of heart attack and stroke. The study was published in the Journal of Physiology and included 102 adults over the age of 60 who had consistently logged their lifetime exercise history. Researchers looked at how regularly the participants engaged in exercise lasting longer than 30 minutes and divided the participants into four categories based on their findings: sedentary, exercising fewer than two times per week; casual exercisers, exercising two to three times per week; committed exercisers, exercising four to five times per week; and master athletes, exercising six to seven times per week plus competing regularly. After measuring markers of arterial function and stiffness in the participants, they found that:

  • Engaging in any amount of regular exercise was associated with lower arterial stiffness compared with being sedentary.
  • Committed exercisers and master athletes had lower pressure in the large arteries leaving the heart compared with those who were sedentary. This indicates a lower workload for the heart.
  • Measures of aortic function suggested that the aortas (the larges arteries in the body) of committed exercisers and master athletes were younger in biological age, relative to chronological age, than those of casual exercisers and sedentary participants.

This study suggests that getting enough exercise may help keep your blood vessels healthy and protect your heart from excessive work for years to come. Notably, these findings are in line with the US 2015 Dietary Guidelines which recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. So there’s no time like the present to get moving! And if you have trouble keeping a regular exercise schedule, check out our tips to get little bouts of exercise throughout the day.

Source: Journal of Physiology

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Information expires December 2018.

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