Here you are nearly two months since you made “exercise more” one of your new year’s resolutions. For that matter, maybe you’ve spent your whole life sitting, lying, or otherwise being sedentary most of the time. Are you thinking, “Why start now”?
The answer is that exercise is good medicine, no matter when you start. Even a long life full of laziness won’t stop you from making big strides in your health by getting active. New research, published in the journal Circulation, shows that the effects of sedentary aging on your heart can be reversed through exercise.
Researchers at the University of Texas followed a group of 53 sedentary, but otherwise healthy, middle-aged men and women for two years. Half the group participated in moderate to high-intensity exercise, and the other half did stretches, balance and strength training.
The participants were examined for oxygen uptake and heart stiffness, a known result of sedentary aging. At the end of the two years, the higher intensity exercise group was fitter, showed better oxygen uptake, and the stiffness in their hearts had significantly reduced. They had greatly improved their cardiovascular health and had a much lower risk of having a heart attack.
The group that benefited from exercise in this study followed a program similar to the exercise guidelines set by the American Heart Association. For overall cardiovascular health here are their recommendations:
- At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes OR
- At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity AND
- Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
If you have high blood pressure and cholesterol, they recommend 40 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week. You choose the type of exercise, including climbing stairs, jogging, walking, swimming, biking or playing sports. See it all laid out in their infographic below:
Don’t let the words “high intensity” scare you. Even a small amount of exercise can still have a significant impact on your health. This four-year study of postmenopausal women showed at 10 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer with just 30 minutes of walking each day.
The benefits of exercise can also be seen in older (and even frail) adults. This study, published in January, 2018, showed improvements in mobility among the elderly who exercised. Mobility was defined by activities like walking and getting up from a chair. The researchers looked at over 1,500 physically inactive men and women, aged 70-89. Half the group participated in an exercise program and the other half was given health education. After three years, the exercise group (including the frail participants) had significant improvements in their mobility.
You see, the research confirms it. It’s not too late. You are not too old, or frail, or sedentary to reap the benefits of exercise. But, if it has been a while since you were physically active, or you just need help figuring out where to start, get in touch with us, and we can help you get moving toward a healthier life.