The heart is referred to as a hollow muscle organ that pumps blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation. Blood provides the body with nutrients and oxygen; it also assist in the removal of metabolic wastes. The heart beats at a resting rate close to 72 beats per minute. Exercise increases the rate temporarily, but in the long term lowers resting heart rate, which is good for heart health.
“For lifelong heart health, start exercising early in life and keep exercising often — ideally, at least four times a week, according to a remarkable series of recent studies involving hundreds of people and their hearts.
But even if you have neglected to exercise in recent years and are now middle-aged, it is not too late. The same research shows that you still can substantially remodel your heart and make it more youthful by starting to work out in midlife, provided you exercise often enough.
By the time many of us are in our mid to late 50s, portions of our heart muscle have begun to atrophy and weaken, and our major cardiac arteries — the blood vessels that move blood from our hearts and to the rest of the body — have stiffened.
These changes increase blood pressure and make our hearts work harder and less well, raising the risk for subsequent health problems, including heart failure.
But Dr. Benjamin Levine, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Dallas, was not convinced that these effects were inevitable.
He and his research colleagues wondered if they might be common only among aging people who are sedentary and not among those who are physically active.
So they embarked upon a series of examinations of people and their cardiac systems.
For the first of these, published in 2014 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, they turned to 102 older men and women who were part of a large-scale, ongoing study of heart health. All had provided detailed information about their physical activities for at least the past 20 years.
The scientists then categorized these men and women, based on those exercise histories.
Some were and had been sedentary throughout adulthood. Others, who reported that they had and continued to exercise two or three times a week for at least 30 minutes, were dubbed long-term “casual” exercisers.
A third group, who had worked out four or five times a week for years, were classified as “committed” exercisers.”
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