In a recent article published in the American Heart Association Journal; Circulation Volume 137, 2018, exercise improved heart function as measured by right heart catheterization and echocardiography. They randomized 61 healthy but sedentary, middle aged men from the Texas Heart Study to either 2 years of exercise training or a control group of balance and flexibility training. The exercise group had individual work out plans with heart rate monitoring. There were weight training sessions and walking/running interval sessions designed to elevate their heart rate. At the peak of each year they were exercising for 5-6 hours a week. The aerobic activities could vary; running, swimming, biking, or elliptical trainer. They were closely monitored and supervised in their training. Translation, no cheating or excuses.
The control group did yoga and stretching three days a week and also had heart rate monitoring during exercise. They were told to avoid endurance training. At the end of the 2 year study period those adhering to the exercise regimen showed improved heart size and and function. The heart stiffness improved and the ability to pump more blood which each beat improved. There ability to uptake oxygen also improved. The control group showed a mild decline in in oxygen uptake and a slight worsening of heart stiffness.
What does all of this mean? The biggest take home message is that we all can benefit from vigorous exercise and frequent exercise. The benefit is a stronger and more efficient heart and better lung function. This is in addition to maintaining muscle mass and bone mass as we age.
It is our goal to help patients achieve optimal health and fitness through a multi-faceted approach. A whole foods plant based diet nourishes the body reducing inflammation and healing damaged tissues. This allows one to exercise vigorously on a continued basis with a decrease chance of injury. We also recognize the value of balance training, flexibility and stretching to decrease injury and the potential for falls as well as a means to optimal performance. Yoga offers the additional value of mind-body connection and stress reduction. We are happy to help you plan and achieve your health and wellness goals.
Best wishes for a Healthy New Year!
– Dr. Dulaney