Exercise Rx for repairing couch potatoes' hearts

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'We found what we believe to be the optimal dose of the right kind of exercise, which is four to five times a week, and the "sweet spot" in time, when the heart risk from a lifetime of sedentary behavior can be improved - which is late-middle age'.

A fifth of those diagnosed will die within a year, while the majority will be dead within a decade.

Another session, lasting up to an hour, is a moderate-intensity activity that you'd barely think of as exercise - something like a brisk-paced walk, a game of tennis, a bike ride, or a similar activity you enjoy.

Heart failure can be ongoing, or chronic, or it can be acute and develop suddenly. One weekly session included a high-intensity workout, such as aerobic interval sessions-the so-called 4x4 session where a person exercises at a high rate for four minutes, with three minutes of recovery, repeated four times. Exercise needs to be performed four to five times a week, generally in 30-minute sessions, with time to warm up and cool down.

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The team had shown in an earlier study that two to three times per week is not enough to protect against heart failure. One received two years of supervised exercise training and the other participated in yoga and balance training.

"This "dose" of exercise has become my prescription for life", said Dr. Benjamin Levine, Director of the Institute and Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, in a press release.

One or two other sessions should be aerobic workouts specially prescribed to each participant, performed at a moderate intensity. In its most severe form, blood can back up into the lungs.

The researchers analyzed the hearts of 53 adults ages 45-64 who were healthy but sedentary at the start of the study, meaning they tended to sit most of the time. Even for people who may not be able to stick to the complete regimen, some exercise is better than none, and physical activity comes with a variety of benefits for the whole body, not just for the heart-like lowering disease-causing inflammation, for example, and improving blood pressure and blood sugar readings. In addition, exercise physiologists met participants monthly throughout the intervention as training frequency, duration, and intensity progressed over time. Previous studies have shown a clear link between exercise and multiple benefits, including cognitive function, cellular health and reduce rates of cancer. The people in the study gradually increased the amount and length of time they exercised. Notable, the control group of yoga balance training and weight training did not experience an improvement in oxygen uptake.

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LV stiffness (measured as curve fit of the diastolic pressure-volume curve) fell from a constant of 0.072 to 0.051 (P=0.0018), whereas there was no change in the controls (0.0635 to 0.062, P=0.83), the authors reported online in Circulation.

"I recommend that people do 4 to 5 days a week of committed exercise as part of their goals in preserving their health", he urges. At the end of six months, all three groups showed improvement in blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, and triglycerides, but those who did both showed two times greater reductions.

If you're under 65 and have never exercised, start now. None of the participants had engaged in regular exercise throughout their lives, but all were otherwise healthy.

Because the study included mostly white volunteers who wanted to take part and were physically able to do so, the findings may not apply to the population in general or to other racial groups, explain the researchers.

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