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Exercise Keeps Heart Strong As You Age

It has been well known for a while now that exercise is essential for good health. Now a new study provides hard science showing that exercising regularly helps build and preserve heart muscle mass in mature adults.

The study was conducted by researchers at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas and their findings were presented April 9, 2011 at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans.

121 healthy adults over the age of 65 with no history of heart disease took part in the study. 65 of the participants were lifelong exercisers and their exercise habits had been documented for over 25 years. 59 were sedentary subjects who participated in the Dallas Heart Study.

The researchers broke the participants up in to four groups based on the number of aerobic exercise sessions per week:

1. Non-exercisers

2. Casual exercisers (two to three times a week)

3. Committed exercisers (four to five times a week)

4. Master athletes (six to seven times a week).

The researchers used MRI’s to take heart mass measurements. They found that the participants with sedentary lifestyles had diminished heart muscle mass as they aged. On the other hand, those who exercised frequently not only maintained but actually increased their heart muscle mass over time.

The amount of heart muscle increase seen was in direct correlation with the amount of time spent exercising. Additionally, the participants who exercised six to seven times per week throughout adulthood actually had more heart muscle mass than a sedentary 25-35 year old.

This study adds hard science to back the benefits of exercising and shows that regular aerobic exercise may be beneficial in preventing many of the major heart issues associated with aging.

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