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Exercise Can Help Arterial Stiffening

July 5, 2018 by

Many people associate getting older with developing hypertension, chronic disease, and cardiovascular disease. These conditions are more common with, but many studies have shown they are avoidable. Cardiovascular disease affects about 1 in 13 Americans over the age of 18 and continues to be the leading cause of death, with 25% of deaths being associated with heart disease.

Mortality rates from heart disease have steadily declined, likely because of improved treatments available to patients after a heart attack, but the number of people who live with the disease remains the same. People at an increased risk for heart disease have high blood pressure, are overweight, live sedentary lives, smoke, and drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

Almost 33% of adults in the U.S. over the age of 20 have hypertension, which leads to 32,000 deaths each year. Hypertension is a leading cause of heart disease and a large factor in this is the physical stiffening of large arteries. However, studies have shown that exercising can reverse the aging of one’s heart and blood vessels by reducing the stiffness of your arteries.

Arterial stiffness may lead to early death. The generalized thickening and overall stiffening of artery walls often lead to other health problems, such as high blood pressure. As many people are living sedentary lives these days working at desk jobs, it is becoming more important than ever to take time out of your day to dedicate to physical activity.

Lifestyle modifications such as aerobic exercise training and eating a low-sodium diet have been shown to be clinically efficient in the prevention prevention and treatment of arterial stiffening. Studies have shown that people who exercise more on a regular basis have a lower amount of arterial stiffness compared to their sedentary counterparts.

This suggests that exercise training interventions may be able to decrease the prominence of age-related arterial stiffness, especially in people who have an increased cardiovascular risk. However, this might not be true for all risk groups. For example, exercise training has not shown any beneficial impact on those suffering from isolated systolic hypertension, which may lead to an irreversible level of arterial stiffening. This suggests that aerobic exercise training is possibly more effective when it is started early so it is used as a preventive measure instead of a treatment.

A recent study reported improvements in arterial stiffness following exercise in postmenopausal women who completed a 12-week-long exercise program. The considerable improvements that were seen in the women in this study in terms of their arterial stiffness led the researchers to propose exercise as an effective strategy to decrease one’s risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women.

Further studies found that both moderate and intense physical activity had similar reductions in arterial stiffness. This is important because many people are more likely to take up a moderate exercise routine than commit to one that is deemed to be “intense”. However, it is also important to note that the amount of exercise that you do is still important. This means if you do moderate exercise, you may have to spend more time doing it than if you do intense exercise.

Aerobic exercise has always been known to improve many classical risk factors of heart disease, which in turn is associated with a lower rate of arterial stiffness. However, the current study suggests that aerobic exercise has a direct impact on arterial stiffness. Exercise is also known to have a positive impact on endothelial function, inflammation, and sympathetic activity, which all directly impact arterial stiffness.

In conclusion, while exercise is already known to have a multitude of health benefits, decreasing arterial stiffening with age is another one to add. From a prevention viewpoint, the various benefits of exercise when it comes to cardiovascular disease prevention make it a clear that exercise is important for heart health.

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