From Cleveland Clinic Wellness
In the “ounce of prevention” department, exercise is held in high esteem. Regular physical activity is one of the most effective habits for keeping your heart, brain, and overall health in good (younger) condition as you age, so you can function as if you were many years younger than your calendar peers. But what about when damage has already been done? For many people, it’s not too late. The right exercise regimen can help reverse heart damage in people who have been sedentary, especially those under age 65, according to new research. Over time, being inactive can cause the heart’s left ventricle, which transports oxygenated blood back to the body, to stiffen. This can ultimately lead to heart failure. A two-year study of middle-aged people found that an exercise regimen can significantly improve the left ventricle’s elasticity and the heart’s functioning. The regimen was no walk in the park, however — or not just a walk in the park. After starting with three sessions per week, participants worked up to four or five sessions per week, including a couple of 30-minute moderate-intensity sessions, a 30-minute high-intensity interval workout, an hour-long moderate-intensity activity, and two strength-training sessions. So if you’re feeling hopeless about getting in shape, take heart (get it?), seize the day, and get moving. (If you have a heart condition or you’ve been sedentary for a long time, talk with your physician before starting.) Increase the fun factor and hold yourself accountable by finding an exercise partner or joining a community exercise program. Your body’s most important muscle will thank you — well into the future!