A couple of new studies showing why making exercise a healthy choice for a healthy life. The results of a study involving yoga, 49 persons with atrial fibrillation (AFib), who were new to ¬†yoga, took three 45 minute classes per week for a three-month trial. The classes focussed on breathing techniques, yoga postures, meditation, and relaxation. At the end of the study, participants reported incidences of AFib were cut in half. The study, done at the University of Kansas Hospital, was presented April 2, 2011, at the American Journal of Cardiology press conference in New Orleans. Researchers aren’t sure of the mechanisms at work, but suggest that yoga may stop the peaks in sympathetic and parasympathetic activity that precede AFib episodes. Persons with AFib are at a much higher risk of stroke.

 

At the same conference, a study, led by Dr. Paul Bhella, looked at regular exercise and the age-related decline in heart mass. Typically, heart muscle size, as measured by left ventricular (LV) mass, peaks early in life (late 20’s), then diminishes with sedentary aging. The study consisted of 81 healthy but sedentary individuals aged 21 to 82 years; and 67 people aged 65 or older who had exercised regularly throughout their lives. This second group was divided into those who had exercised two to three times per week, four to five times per week, and six to seven times per week. Exercise was defined to be a period of 20 -25 minutes of some aerobic activity.

Results showed that in the sedentary group, LV mass had reduced by 62% between those in their 30’s to those in their 60’s. In contrast, in those older individuals who had done regular exercise, LV mass either stayed stable, or actually increased, depending on the exercise¬†dosage. “Use it or lose it” definitely comes into play here, and it’s never to late to start rebuilding your heart. The choice is yours and yours alone.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.

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