Our bodies are amazing and complex. That means that it is often difficult for science to study just one thing at a time.
Having said that, in the fitness biz, often THE marker for how fit you are is how much oxygen you can use when you exercise. The more fit you are, the better you are at sucking oxygen in and getting it to your cells to help them create energy for you to keep going.
Your Heart and Circulation
To put it in a different context, what really matters is how good your heart is at pumping, and how good your circulation is at getting oxygen to your cells.
If you want to boil it down even further to just one thing, you can think of moving, exercise, or fitness, as a way to keep your arteries healthy and working well for you.
However, as we get older, our tissues tend to get stiffer (duh, you might say). This includes your arteries and veins. Bummer, but that’s the truth. It turns out that you can delay this process with exercise.
As I found out this week, there is a group of researchers that decided to figure out exactly how much exercise you need in order to keep your arteries in good shape. Good to know, right?
Here’s what they found. 30 minutes of exercise 2-3 times a week was enough to keep the middle-sized arteries from aging very much. These are the ones that go up to your head and neck. On the other hand, it takes 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week to keep the large arteries in the chest and abdomen “youthful”. These were the arteries that they looked at in the study. There are obviously plenty more medium-sized and large arteries in your body.
These researchers were quick to point out a couple of things. One, that this was a small study that did not ask what type of exercise the people were getting, or what the rest of their habits were. Besides that, they were asking the people how often they had been exercising for the past 25 years! In spite of the imprecision of this set-up, researchers were still able to get definitive results.
The other thing was that this study was focused on prevention of stiff arteries. They are working on another study concerning how to actually reverse the process. As it is, they point to other studies that say it is too late to reverse stiffness after age 70.
The take homes:
- From this and hundreds of other studies, doing more exercise gives you greater health benefits than doing just a little.
- But, it also shows that doing just a bit is better than nothing. You still get health benefits from getting 30 minutes of exercise 2-3 times a week.
- This study showed the benefits of exercise even though it wasn’t clear what sort of exercise people had been getting for the past 25 years. This points to the fact that movement and exercise of all sorts will do the trick.
- Last but not least, don’t put it off! Your arteries need you!
Keep on truckin’,
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