Medical professionals have long understood the importance of using exercise to maintain heart health, but the results of a recent study published in the medical journal Circulation show that the link is even more powerful than previously known. According to the results, regular courses of certain types of exercise actually have the ability to reverse signs of heart disease for patients who are firmly into middle-age, even if they have led completely sedentary lifestyles up until that point.

Details of the study

For the study, researchers tracked 53 individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 who did not participate in regular exercise, and effectively maintained a sedentary lifestyle. The duration of the study lasted approximately two years, and the participants were split into two groups that were each given different exercise regimes—aerobic for one, and a combination of yoga, balance training, and weight training for the other.

Researchers closely monitored the heart activity of the participants throughout the study and found that the group that followed the aerobic exercise routine saw improvements to several of the markers of a healthy heart by the conclusion, including maximum oxygen intake and left ventricular plasticity. The additional groups in the study did not experience the same benefits from their program.

How exercise affects your heart

Regular exercise strengthens your heart over time, just as it does with other muscles in your body. It also helps your heart pump blood throughout the body more efficiently, which allows you to maintain a normal blood pressure and resist heart disease. Just like with other muscles, the benefits of exercise on the heart don’t manifest instantly, as the results of the study in Circulation demonstrate.

How middle-aged patients can maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle

It’s important to know that even if you are well into middle-age and have never exercised before, it’s not too late to strengthen your heart through regular activity. Talk to your physician about beginning an optimized aerobic exercise regimen in conjunction with a healthy diet, in order to minimize your risk of heart disease.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants. Dr. Dilip Mathew is board certified in Cardiology & Cardiac Electrophysiology and has been serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities including Port Charlotte, Venice, Tampa and Sun City Center for over a decade.