When asked about what late-middle-aged people could do to be healthier and extend their lives, American researchers suggest that one of the best tips they can give them is to leave the sedentary lifestyle away and keep doing exercise. As the experts wrote on the study released on January 2nd, by improving their fitness they would also be reducing the risks of heart failure. However, they would have to work out four to five days a week
Muscles can lose a lot of flexibility in the first four years after a person stops doing exercises. And as the scientists wrote in the paper published in the journal Circulation, previous research has demonstrated that stiff, hardened muscles can lead humans to suffer heart attacks and other heart diseases. But don’t worry: those first years of sedentism are not irreparable.
In other words, four years of losing muscles’ flexibility can be fixed with only two years away from the sedentary lifestyle. Of course, that would mean working out for around 30 minutes every five days per week, for the rest of two years. This amount of exercise was dubbed by the experts as the “sweet spot.”
Dr. Benjamin Levine from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, also the lead researcher, considered that his team found the “optimal dose of the right kind of exercise” – which are the number of days previously established. Additionally, he said that thanks to the ”sweet spot,” late-middle-aged people can improve the heart risk from a “lifetime of sedentary.”
“We’ve also found that the “sweet spot” in life to get off the couch and start exercising is in late-middle age, when the heart still has plasticity” said Dr Benjamin Levine, who’s also founder and director of a joint programme known as the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine.
The researchers suggested that middle-aged people should take workouts as serious as having good dental hygiene, showering, and other usual practices of the ordinary daily routine.
Heart disease is one of the major causes of death in the US and kills one out of four American citizens per year. Likewise, more than two-and-a-half million adults have been diagnosed with heart problems in the UK.
Hard work for good results
The American team gathered 53 adults between 45 and 64 years old who were considered healthy but didn’t have workout-times in their daily routines.
These individuals, as the study wrote, followed sedentary lifestyles. According to the experts, these “sedentary” behaviors are low-physical activity practices – such as sitting or reclining for long periods of time.
All of the participants were randomly divided into two groups. The first one was asked to follow a hard routine of exercises that increased as the two years of study passed. But the second one, on the other hand, focused only on improving flexibility and balance by doing yoga and additional weight training – just three to four days a week, also for two years.
Those from the first group were asked to do a weekly hour-long exercise session – like biking, brisk walking, tennis or dancing -, a weekly high-intensity interval training workout, moderate-intensity exercise for two to three times per week, and at least one strength training session weekly – as TIME reported.
The first group, as the scientists wrote, achieved better results than the second one. At the end of the two years of study, these individuals were able to breathe 18 percent more of oxygen compared to the beginning of it. Also, they also improved 25 percent in “plasticity” in the left ventricular muscle of the heart.
Those benefits, which indicated that the patients also achieved a healthier heart, were not seen in the second group at the end of the two years.
“It’s not something that gets added on to the end of the day: You brush your teeth, you change your clothes, you eat food and drink water,” Told Dr. Levine to the BBC. “You do these things for personal hygiene. Exercise is equally important. You need to find ways to incorporate it into your daily activities.”
Dr. Richard Siow, director of aging research at King’s College London and vice-dean of the faculty of life sciences and medicine there, also considered that this study might help middle-aged people and impulse them to work out more than what they’re used.
According to him, this study provided evidence that shows that humans can “rejuvenate or make the cells in the heart.”
“I think that’s a very important take-home message for those of us who may have a doom and gloom view there’s nothing we can do about it. Yes there is, we can start by getting off the couch to have a more active lifestyle.”