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Exercise Can Regrow Your Heart: Cardio Benefits Fight Heart Disease

7 minute read


Exercise is good for your heart. It doesn’t matter if you ask your doctor, a health professional, or the Surgeon General, they will all agree.

Exercise is good for your overall well-being and health but seems to have an enormously positive impact on your heart. A recent study found that exercise stimulates the production of new heart muscle cells.

What this means is that exercise can do more than keep your heart healthy, it can keep it young, too.

The Science Behind a Youthful Heart

Our hearts have a low capacity to regenerate. The heart of a young adult can regenerate about 1 percent of their heart muscle cells each year, but this rate declines as we age.

Heart failure and heart attacks are linked to the loss of heart cells. Any new information that leads to increased heart cell production will be a major advance in preventing heart failure. These new discoveries show us that daily exercise can do just that.

To get away from medications, the same reason many people use heart-healthy supplements, researchers decided to look at the effects of exercise on heart health, using mice. One group of mice in the study were given access to a treadmill to use whenever they wanted, and a second group lived a more sedentary lifestyle.

The mice with the treadmill ran close to five kilometers a day. By using a labelled chemical, researchers were able to see that more than four and a half times the number of new heart cells were created in the exercising mice.

Researchers turned their attention towards discovering if heart muscle cells could regenerate after a heart attack. They found that even after a heart attack, regular exercise triggered the generation of new heart muscle cells.

A heart attack is a life-changing event that can cause serious damage to your heart, so knowing that exercise can help patients to heal and recover is monumental. Being able to exercise your way back into good health after a heart attack will benefit millions of people.

By essentially giving yourself a younger heart, you can start over.

Your heart is a muscle, and, just like every other muscle in your body, it will get stronger and healthier with activity. You don’t have to be an athlete to get the benefits of exercise because your heart can grow stronger with a simple 30-minute walk each day.

The good news is that it is never too late to start. People that never exercise are twice as likely to develop heart disease, and this risk is increased if diet is also poor.

Exercising for Heart Health

Exercise and a healthy diet are the perfect ingredients for a happy heart and overall good health. Even if you do not regularly exercise, you can get started today and start noticing the benefits tomorrow.

A busy schedule doesn’t need to get in the way of your health because all you need is 30 minutes a day to keep your heart young. You can start off small and gradually increase your exercise program as you notice your health improving.

There are certain key factors to remember when developing an exercise plan for heart health. You want to be sure you do some cardio or aerobic exercise, some stretching, and some strength training.

You can go running, jogging, swimming, or cycling to get your heart pumping and circulatory system flowing. If you have joint problems you need to stick with less-strenuous options, such as swimming or brisk walking.

You should always check with your doctor to help develop a beneficial exercise regimen.

Cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen your heart by directing blood flow to the muscles that are working and away from those that are sedentary such as your digestive tract. Increased blood volume is registered by the heart which causes the ventricle of your heart to grow with time.

| Related: Heart-Healthy Roasted Broccoli Quiche |

As the heart grows, it can handle more activity and pumps blood more efficiently. Your heart health improves as each beat can pump more, so fewer beats are needed and less strain is placed on your heart.

The reason you want to include strength training is because it works your heart in a different way to cardio. At any point during training, certain muscles are contracting and relying on your type two muscle fibers, which are responsible for making you stronger.

As your muscles contract, they compress the blood vessels close to them and this increases blood pressure. Your heart adapts to this additional workload by enlarging, but in a good way.

A thick heart wall developed through exercise is beneficial, whereas a thick wall from hypertension is not.

Keeping Your Heart Young

Your heart health can also decrease as a result of poor diet and obesity. Carrying too much weight and eating a diet filled with sugary and processed foods (instead of with nutrients and omega-3s) causes your heart to work harder, but only to its eventual detriment.

The work your heart exerts as a result of exercise is beneficial, making the muscles stronger rather than straining them. Working out provides the necessary training for your heart, keeping it younger, healthier, and better equipped to avoid heart disease.

Exercise also stimulates the production of new blood vessels. The more blood vessels we have, the more places blood can flow, which means your circulatory system becomes more efficient.

A cardio workout will increase the number of blood vessels, and strength training will increase their size, delivering an all-inclusive health program for your heart. Paired with the right exercise program, you should also watch your diet and practice stress-reduction techniques to make sure your heart gets all the care it needs.

The Bottom Line

Keeping the heart young involves balancing the loss of muscle cells that occurs with injury and aging with the regeneration of new heart muscle cells. Studies are showing that exercise tips the balance in favor of regeneration, meaning we can keep our hearts younger with some regular aerobic activity.

It’s time to get your feet moving and your heart pumping to encourage new heart cell growth as well as improved strength. Exercise is the best way to keep you young at heart figuratively and literally.

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