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Exercise is the Heart's Fountain of Youth

August 12, 2008 | 49,425 views
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exerciseOlder people who do endurance exercise training end up with metabolically younger hearts, according to a study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. By at least one metabolic measure, women benefit more than men from the training.

Researchers measured heart metabolism in sedentary older people both at rest and during administration of dobutamine, a drug that makes the heart race as if a person were exercising vigorously. At the start of the study, they found that the hearts of the study subjects didn't increase their uptake of glucose in response to the dobutamine.

But after endurance exercise training involving walking, running or cycling exercises three to five days a week for about an hour per session, the participants' hearts doubled their glucose uptake during high-energy demand, just as younger hearts do.

If heart muscle doesn't take in glucose in response to increased energy needs, it goes into an energy-deprived state, which can raise the risk of heart attack. But if it can increase glucose uptake, the heart is better protected against heart attack and ischemia (low oxygen).

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It’s a misconception that we all age at the same rate and there is nothing we can do to alter that rate.

One of the absolute best ways to take care of your body, now and as you get older, is exercise. This study is just the latest to show how much benefit you can reap from a little bit of physical activity.

The participants in this study were between the ages of 60 and 75, and they had been living an inactive lifestyle. Then, an hour of exercise three to five times a week, and 11 months later, they had major improvements in their heart health.

One of the researchers even said the participants reported feeling “in the best shape they had been in years.”

So if you’re currently middle-aged or older and feeling like you’re “too old” to exercise or that it’s “too late to get any benefits,” think again. This study just proved you wrong.

Of course, the best way to know for sure is to get started on an exercise program and experience the benefits first-hand.

What is the BEST Type of Exercise Program?

If you’re looking for results -- both on the outside and inside of your body -- you need to do a variety of workouts, including aerobic and strength training. But in terms of aerobics, there’s a secret you should know.

Research is showing that the BEST way to condition your heart and burn fat is NOT to jog steadily for an hour. Instead, it’s to alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods. This type of exercise, known as interval training, can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities.

You can still incorporate some of the endurance cardio into your routine, but make sure you take advantage of interval training. The new evidence suggests that this may actually provide MORE protection against heart attacks than long durational aerobic-type exercises.

Another major benefit of this approach is that it radically decreases the amount of time you spend exercising, while giving you even more benefits.

Personally, I now incorporate interval training (sprints) with endurance cardio training (running), pull-ups, dips, and singles tennis. As I near my mid 50s I am unable to do more than one hard interval training a week. But when I do sprint, it is great fun to run all out as fast as I can, it really gets my heart going quickly.

A word to the wise, if you’re just getting back into exercising, you’ll need to work your way up slowly. To start, you might try walking interspersed with a period of fast walking, for instance. Then, as your body grows more conditioned, you can increase to a higher intensity workout.

Need a Little Motivation?

I’ll be the first to admit that exercise is not easy. It’s not supposed to be after all, and if exercising is a breeze, you’re probably not working hard enough.

If you have a hard time psyching yourself up for a vigorous workout, one of the best things to do is focus on the prize: a healthier, more trim you.

I’m going to list some of the many, many things exercise can do for your mind and body. Go ahead and print this list out, send it to your exercise buddy or take it with you to the gym. Then, whenever you’re thinking of quitting, take a look. These benefits are just too good to pass up.

15 Ways Exercise Can Improve Your Health

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