SEP 17 2018
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SEP 17 2018
All Posts

Middle-aged can reduce heart risk with exercise

Posted by: Monique A. Pearson, General Manager at Rutherford Rede in opinion

If you were wondering if it's too late in life to get into shape - you'll want to read this article.

Physical activity has long been known to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. Another important reason is that exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. Through exercise the brain receives a greater supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients that boost its health as well as growth hormones that help the development of new neurons and connections.

Exercising can reverse or reduce the risk of heart failure

An article published earlier this year by BBC News Health and Science Reporter, Alex Therrien, highlights the results of a study conducted by Dr Benjamin Levine, lead author of the study and the founder and director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Texas. The study concluded that people into late middle age can reverse or reduce the risk of heart failure caused by decades of sedentary living, by exercising. This is encouraging news for those of us who haven’t been moving enough. But, as Therrien reveals, there is a catch. It takes two years of aerobic exercise, four to five days a week, and you need to start before the age of 65 which is when the heart appears to retain ‘plasticity’ and the ability to remodel itself.
In his article, Therrien discusses the results of the study performed by Dr Levine. In particular, and according to Dr Levine, he focuses on “the key to a healthier heart in middle age is the right dose of exercise, at the right time.” Dr Levine terms this optimal dose as the ‘sweet spot’.

Finding the ‘sweet spot’

As reported by Therrien, in his study, Dr Levine analysed the hearts of 53 adults aged 45-64 who were healthy but had no history of regular exercise regimes. He divided the study participants into two groups – those who performed aerobic exercises, and others who did anaerobic exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and balance training.
It turns out that, over a period of two years, the aerobic exercise group showed an 18% improvement in their oxygen intake and a more than 25% improvement in ‘plasticity’ in the left ventricular muscle of the heart – both indicators of a healthy heart. However, according to Dr Levine, the benefits were not seen in the second group. “We found what we believe to be the optimal dose of the right kind of exercise, which is four to five times a week, and the ‘sweet spot’ in time, when the heart risk from a lifetime of sedentary behaviour can be improved – which is late-middle age. The result was a reversal of decades of a sedentary lifestyle of the heart for most of the study participants.”

Putting it to the test

Dr Levine encourages people to look for ways to incorporate exercise into their daily activities. A significant message from his research is that “exercise needs to be a part of people’s personal hygiene, like brushing teeth.” And he’s not alone in his thinking.
In full support of the study is Dr Richard Siow, Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine at King’s College London and Director of Ageing Research at King’s. He told the BBC that the study provided further evidence that "we can, in a way, rejuvenate or make the cells in the heart, and also in the blood vessels for that matter, resemble younger cells through an exercise programme."

So, how much exercise is required to reduce heart risk? What’s the right dose?

Standard recommendations advise 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, or 150 minutes a week. If that seems too daunting, start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by 5 or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal. If you don’t want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises, such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, or dancing. You might consider joining a class or working out with a friend who will hold you accountable. And, if you’re able, hire a personal trainer.

Boosting the body and the brain

There is sufficient evidence to support exercise in improving cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while muscle training – for example, using weights – has a significant effect on memory and the brain’s ability to plan and organise. Now there is evidence to support the right dose of exercise at the right time in life – the ‘sweet spot’ – can reverse decades of a sedentary lifestyle of the heart for people into late middle age.
Whatever exercise and motivators you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a habit. After all, they say that exercise is the best medicine, and if there was ever a time to get off the couch and lead a more active lifestyle – it’s now. Remember to consult with your general practitioner before beginning any exercise programme.

From Alex Therrien's article, this is what the study’s participants did

Participants exercised generally in 30-minute sessions, plus a warm-up and cool-down. They built up to those levels, beginning with three 30-minute moderate exercise sessions for the first three months after which high intensity exercise was included. Their routine included:

  1. One high-intensity aerobic session, such as four-by-four interval training where participants did four sets of four minutes of exercise at 95% of their maximum heart rate followed by three minutes of active recovery at 6—75% peak heart rate
  2. Two or three days a week of moderate intensity exercise (where exercisers sweat but can still carry on a conversation)
  3. At least one weekly strength training session
  4. At least one long session of aerobic exercise a week, such as an hour of tennis, cycling, running, dancing or brisk walking

Tags: Special interest topic,

If you were wondering if it's too late in life to get into shape - you'll want to read this article.

Physical activity has long been known to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. Another important reason is that exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. Through exercise the brain receives a greater supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients that boost its health as well as growth hormones that help the development of new neurons and connections.

Exercising can reverse or reduce the risk of heart failure

An article published earlier this year by BBC News Health and Science Reporter, Alex Therrien, highlights the results of a study conducted by Dr Benjamin Levine, lead author of the study and the founder and director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Texas. The study concluded that people into late middle age can reverse or reduce the risk of heart failure caused by decades of sedentary living, by exercising. This is encouraging news for those of us who haven’t been moving enough. But, as Therrien reveals, there is a catch. It takes two years of aerobic exercise, four to five days a week, and you need to start before the age of 65 which is when the heart appears to retain ‘plasticity’ and the ability to remodel itself.
In his article, Therrien discusses the results of the study performed by Dr Levine. In particular, and according to Dr Levine, he focuses on “the key to a healthier heart in middle age is the right dose of exercise, at the right time.” Dr Levine terms this optimal dose as the ‘sweet spot’.

Finding the ‘sweet spot’

As reported by Therrien, in his study, Dr Levine analysed the hearts of 53 adults aged 45-64 who were healthy but had no history of regular exercise regimes. He divided the study participants into two groups – those who performed aerobic exercises, and others who did anaerobic exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and balance training.
It turns out that, over a period of two years, the aerobic exercise group showed an 18% improvement in their oxygen intake and a more than 25% improvement in ‘plasticity’ in the left ventricular muscle of the heart – both indicators of a healthy heart. However, according to Dr Levine, the benefits were not seen in the second group. “We found what we believe to be the optimal dose of the right kind of exercise, which is four to five times a week, and the ‘sweet spot’ in time, when the heart risk from a lifetime of sedentary behaviour can be improved – which is late-middle age. The result was a reversal of decades of a sedentary lifestyle of the heart for most of the study participants.”

Putting it to the test

Dr Levine encourages people to look for ways to incorporate exercise into their daily activities. A significant message from his research is that “exercise needs to be a part of people’s personal hygiene, like brushing teeth.” And he’s not alone in his thinking.
In full support of the study is Dr Richard Siow, Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine at King’s College London and Director of Ageing Research at King’s. He told the BBC that the study provided further evidence that "we can, in a way, rejuvenate or make the cells in the heart, and also in the blood vessels for that matter, resemble younger cells through an exercise programme."

So, how much exercise is required to reduce heart risk? What’s the right dose?

Standard recommendations advise 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, or 150 minutes a week. If that seems too daunting, start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by 5 or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal. If you don’t want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises, such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, or dancing. You might consider joining a class or working out with a friend who will hold you accountable. And, if you’re able, hire a personal trainer.

Boosting the body and the brain

There is sufficient evidence to support exercise in improving cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while muscle training – for example, using weights – has a significant effect on memory and the brain’s ability to plan and organise. Now there is evidence to support the right dose of exercise at the right time in life – the ‘sweet spot’ – can reverse decades of a sedentary lifestyle of the heart for people into late middle age.
Whatever exercise and motivators you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a habit. After all, they say that exercise is the best medicine, and if there was ever a time to get off the couch and lead a more active lifestyle – it’s now. Remember to consult with your general practitioner before beginning any exercise programme.

From Alex Therrien's article, this is what the study’s participants did

Participants exercised generally in 30-minute sessions, plus a warm-up and cool-down. They built up to those levels, beginning with three 30-minute moderate exercise sessions for the first three months after which high intensity exercise was included. Their routine included:

  1. One high-intensity aerobic session, such as four-by-four interval training where participants did four sets of four minutes of exercise at 95% of their maximum heart rate followed by three minutes of active recovery at 6—75% peak heart rate
  2. Two or three days a week of moderate intensity exercise (where exercisers sweat but can still carry on a conversation)
  3. At least one weekly strength training session
  4. At least one long session of aerobic exercise a week, such as an hour of tennis, cycling, running, dancing or brisk walking

Tags: Special interest topic,

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