Research: Cardiovascular Exercise Renews Middle-Aged Heart : NPR

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Fortunately for those in midlife, Levine is finding that even if you haven't been an avid exerciser, getting in shape now may head off that decline and help restore your aging heart. He and his colleagues published their recent findings in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation.

The research team recruited individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 who were mostly sedentary but otherwise healthy.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group engaged in a program of nonaerobic exercise — basic yoga, balance training and weight training — three times a week. The other group, which Onsry was in, was assigned a trainer and did moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise for four or more days a week.

After two years, the group doing the higher-intensity exercise saw dramatic improvements in heart health.

"We took these 50-year-old hearts and turned the clock back to 30- or 35-year-old hearts," says Levine. Their hearts processed oxygen more efficiently and were notably less stiff.

"And the reason they got so much stronger and fitter," he says, "was because their hearts could now fill a lot better and pump a lot more blood during exercise."

The hearts of those engaged in less intense routines didn't change, he says.

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