FOUR TO FIVE DAYS OF exercise per week is the optimal amount of physical activity to maintain a healthy heart, according to new research.
A study published Sunday in The Journal of Physiology found varying amounts of weekly exercise had different effects on different sized arteries.
As people age, their arteries – blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the tissues of the body – begin to stiffen. This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
The study, called The Effect of Lifelong Exercise Frequency on Arterial Stiffness, looked at 102 people older than 60 years who had been physically active throughout their lives. Researchers measured their arterial stiffness and divided the participants into groups of people based on how often they exercised: less than two days per week, two to three days, four to five days and six to seven days.
Researchers found that two to three days of exercise per week may be sufficient to minimize stiffening of the body's middle-sized arteries. However, four to five days of exercise per week will keep the body's larger, central arteries young, in addition to the middle-sized arteries. Middle arteries supply oxygenated blood to the head and neck and central arteries supply the chest and abdomen.