It seems that middle-aged and elderly individuals may be able to slow, if not yet halt, some of the effects of aging on the cardiovascular system using exercise.
To get the desired results, people--with their doctor's approval--need to participate in strenuous exercise for at least a half-hour three times a week, according to researchers at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.
In their studies, people who participated in at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week and achieved at least 80% of VO2 max (the maximum oxygen consumption, which is a measure of the ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise) can slow the decline in cardiovascular health that accompanies old age.
The studies suggested that improvements can be made in less than 4 months and then maintained after that point. The investigators found no difference in fitness between people who walked and jogged, and those who cycled.
The researchers report that the heart's capacity to use oxygen declines at a rate of about 1% a year, due in part to a lack of physical activity.
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