A new study shows that those in their mid-forties to mid-sixties can reduce their risk of heart attacks through exercise even though they have spent most of their lives not exercising. However, older folks may be out of luck.


The subjects were divided into two groups, both of which had been sedentary over years. One did increasing intense aerobic exercise over two years. The other group did weight training, yoga, and similar exercises over the same period. Subjects in both groups then had their oxygen intake capacity and the flexibility of hearts measured.


The group that did weight training showed no significant improvement in these measures, but the aerobics group showed a 25% increase in heart flexibility and an 18% increase in maximum oxygen intake. That’s good news, but the not so good news is that it took two years of hard work to achieve those results. In the study, that meant interval training three or four times per week, half an hour at a time, plus one session of weight training per week, as well as other, less intense, forms of exercise.


The even less good news is that the researchers noted that other studies have shown that these sorts of results do not occur in subjects over the age of sixty-five. It seems that there’s a real preventive effect from cardiovascular exercise, but there becomes a time when it really can be too late.


The study was conducted by the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a joint program between Texas Health Resources and UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas. The study was published in the January 16, 2018 edition of Circulation.