Exercising Young Affects Heart Health Later in Life

The results of a decades-long study conducted by Dr. Ravi Shah of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has shown that heart health in older adults is directly correlated with exercise when the participants of the study were much younger. The study followed 4,900 individuals aged 18 to 30. The adults were instructed to perform a series of two-minute stages of increasing difficulty while walking on a treadmill. Half the participants were asked to repeat the test seven years later. Around 2,500 individuals were followed throughout the duration of the trial, which extended over 25 years. ReactDx, manufacturers of cardiac event recorders, shares the details of the study.

  • Patients were monitored for obesity, hardening of the arteries, weakness in heart muscle walls, and any signs of cardiovascular disease.
  • Of the 4.900 participants, 273 passed away. The researchers reported in JAMA Internal Medicine that only 73 of those fatalities were heart-related. Likewise, almost 200 people survived heart attacks or strokes in that same time period.
  • For each one-minute increase in treadmill time, the heart experienced less heart strain. This increase did not change the outcome of hardening of the arteries.
  • For the patients who participated in the second round of treadmill tests seven years after the initial test, each one-minute reduction in exercise tolerance correlated to a 20% cardiovascular event increase and increased the risks of death by an astonishing 21%.
  • Pundits may argue that the results were related to age, race, gender, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol levels, blood pressure elevation, obesity, etc. Researchers accounted for these factors, however.
  • The last risk, obesity, was extremely interesting to many individuals since exercise is often viewed as merely a road to weight management.
  • “Being fit and maintaining fitness over time are very important to your heart and overall health for everyone – especially starting in early adulthood – and not only for people who are trying to lose or to maintain weight,” reports Dr. Venkatesh Murthy of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The study proves the that link between fitness and health is strong, along with a balanced diet and limiting sedentary activities. The idea of exercising during youth is different, though, and the results took many by surprise. Read more interesting information pertaining to diet, fitness, and cardiovascular health by reading our past blogs, or contact one of our cardiac event recorder experts at (800) 23-HEART (234-3278).

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