For A Strong Heart In Old Age, The Amount You Exercise Matters | KERA News

For A Strong Heart In Old Age, The Amount You Exercise Matters

Sep 18, 2014

The general consensus is the more you exercise, the better off your heart is. But do the benefits change depending on how often you exercise a week? Researchers with Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith hospital wanted to find out.

Dr. Paul Bhella, director of Cardiac Imaging at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, is the lead author of a new study out now in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and he breaks down the findings.

From Dr. Paul Bhella’s Interview:

What were you trying to find in this study?

“The purpose of this study was to figure out if someone truly has to exercise six to seven times a week to get the benefit of flexibility and stretchability of the heart – that may not be practical for everyone. Maybe exercising four to five times or two to three times a week could give you some of the bang for the buck as exercising six to seven times a week throughout your adult life.”  

What were the results?

“People who exercised six to seven times a week have these stretchable, compliant hearts. People who exercise four to five times a week throughout their adult lives had close to as stretchable and flexible as the six to seven times-a-weekers, and much better than the two to three times-a-weekers or the non-active people.”

What type of exercise did you look at?

“This was primarily dynamic or aerobic exercise. Our study didn’t select only runners, only swimmers, only cyclists, only walkers; it took all [types of exercise], as long as it was aerobic.”

This is good news for young people who already have an exercise regimen, but what should older people take from this study?

“For the people who are 65-years-old and are thinking, ‘Wow, I only exercise two to three times a week throughout my adult life. Does that mean there’s no good for me to exercise more?’ No, that’s certainly not the case. There are a lot of great benefits of exercise. We were just studying this one.”