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Endurance Training Boosts Heart Health- Even After 40

Update Date: May 09, 2014 09:09 PM EDT

It's not too late to start endurance training at 40, according to a new study. Researchers studied healthy senior men and discovered that "relatively intensive" endurance exercise helps the heart; regardless of what age people began training.

The study revealed that heat benefits were similar in those who had started training before the age of 30 or after the age of 40.

Researchers said that latest findings suggest that men who turn 40 aren't too old to start endurance training.

The study involved 40 healthy men (without cardiovascular risk factors) aged between 55 and 70 years who were divided for evaluation according to their fitness level and ages at which they began endurance training. Ten of the men never exercised for more than two hours a week throughout their lives, 30 had exercised for at least seven hours a week for over five years.

The most common form of exercise was running or cycling. The study revealed that men who began exercising before the age of 30 had been training for an average of 39 years, and those starting at 40 for 18 years.

Maximal exercise testing, echocardiography at rest and during submaximal exercise, and heart rate analysis revealed that resting heart rate was similar between the two exercise groups (T30 56.8 bpm, T40 58.1 bpm), but significantly faster in the non-exercising men (69.7 bpm).

Findings revealed that maximal oxygen uptake was also similar between the T30 (47.3 ml/min/kg) and T40 groups (44.6 ml/min/kg), but significantly lower in the non-exercising group (33.0 ml/min/kg).

"We think this result is of interest because it is related to cardiovascular health and well-being," David Matelot, from the Inserm 1099 unit in Rennes, France, said in a news release.

The study revealed that men in the non-exercise group also showed significantly thicken vessel walls than those who exercised.

"Thus, cardiac remodeling seems to be different between both of the trained groups and the non-trained subjects," Matelot said.

Researchers noted that no differences were observed between 30 and T40 in cardiac echocardiography tests.

"Despite biological changes with age, the heart still seems - even at the age of 40 - amenable to modification by endurance training. Starting at the age of 40 does not seem to impair the cardiac benefits," Matelot explained.

"However, endurance training is also beneficial for bone density, for muscle mass, for oxidative stress. And these benefits are known to be greater if training was started early in life," he added.

"But it's never too late to change your way of life and get more physically active," said Matelot. "This will always be beneficial for the heart and well-being. And there's no need for a high level of training for many hours a week. Using the stairs rather than the elevator, or gardening regularly, can also be beneficial."

The findings were presented today at the EuroPRevent congress 2014 in Amsterdam.

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