James Davies shares his quick exercise tip
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Like all the organs in our body, the heart becomes weaker and less effective as we get older.
Furthermore, with the travails and habits of modern life, often damage done to the heart is irreversible, that is at least what some researchers suggest.
One study in 2018 carried out by Southwestern Medical Centre found that exercise could reverse damage to ageing hearts and help reduce the risk of heart failure.
Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood around the body effectively and usually happens when the heart has become too stiff or too weak.
It is this chronic condition which the researchers said exercise could help people to avoid.
What did the regime include?
The regime was multifaceted, including warm up and a warm down as well as the exercise itself and was made up of a range of different exercise types from high intensity workouts to strength training sessions, and aerobic activities such as tennis.
Over the course of the study, participants built up their levels, so that they were fitter by the end of the study.
The aim of the exercise routine was to combat sedentary ageing. Doctor Levine explained further.
In order to obtain the most benefit from exercise, the team behind the study said that people should start this exercise routine before the age of 65. After this, exercise did not reap the same benefit.
According to the researchers, after the age of 65, the heart no longer retains some plasticity with which to remodel itself and change its structure.
Alongside starting before the age of 65, the researchers said the exercise needs to be conducted at least four to five times a week.
Doctor Benjamin Levine, senior author of the study, said: “Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the past five years, this ‘dose’ of exercise has become my prescription for life.”
Doctor Levine added: “I think people should be able to do this as part of their personal hygiene – just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower.”
He said: “When the muscle stiffens, you get high pressure and the heart chamber doesn’t fill as well with blood. In its most severe form, blood can back up into the lungs. That’s when heart failure develops.”
What are the main symptoms of heart failure?
The main symptoms of heart failure are, say the NHS:
• Breathlessness after activity or rest
• Feeling tired most of the time
• Feeling lightheaded most of the time and finding exercise exhausting
• Feeling lightheaded and fainting
• Swollen ankles and legs
• A persistent cough
• A fast heart rate
Heart failure is a long term condition which has to be managed over a number of years through several means including lifestyle changes, medication, devices implanted in the chest, and surgery.
In most cases, a combination of treatments rather than just one will be used to treat the condition.
What causes heart failure?
In the same way heart failure can be treated in a number of ways, so too can it be caused in a number of ways.
Very often these centre around existing cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, conditions affecting the heart muscle, or problems with other parts of the heart.
Furthermore, these conditions can in turn be exacerbated or caused by poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, high alcohol intake, and inactivity.
These in turn can be prevented through a combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise before late-middle age.
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