An under-appreciate benefit of HIIT exercise
Arterial stiffness occurs as a consequence of biological aging and arteriosclerosis. What is often not well appreciated is that exercise can make a significant contribution to reducing arterial stiffness, and thus mitigating the adverse health consequences.
How does that work?
Exercising makes the heart work harder and this sends more frequent pulses of blood out into the arterial system. These "pulses" are not just pushed along by the force of the heart, as in a pump pushing water through a hose. The blood is pumped along by the muscles in the arteries contracting and squeezing like squeezing toothpaste.
This exercises the arterial and vascular muscles! The exercise reduces their "stiffness', just like other muscles.
And in addition, as you exercise your heart it becomes stronger and able to pump out bigger pulses of blood with each stroke. That's why your resting heart rate drops as you get fitter. These bigger pulses make the arterial and vascular muscles work even harder to push the bigger pulses of blood along, and they get even less stiff.
That's it really. So how fantastic is that?
The more you exercise and raise your heart beat the more you condition your arterial muscles and potentially lower arterial stiffness, and lower higher blood pressure associated with arterial stiffness.
This is not theory. There are numerous studies in Pubmed (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health) that report on reduced arterial stiffness as a result of exercise.
However, it seems to be under-appreciated as a health benefit.
The fact that scientists have identified arterial stiffening as risk factor for atherosclerosis that rivals high cholesterol surely indicates that it deserves your attention.
Exercise intensity raises blood momentum
Perhaps what is especially under-appreciated is the relationship between exercise intensity and the health benefits.
In order to get the most bang for your invested effort in reducing arterial stiffness - not to mention many other benefits - it pays to do high intensity interval training (HIIT). Undoubtedly, the usual modest-intensity cardio provides benefits. But HIIT creates the greatest "blood momentum" - pumping the most blood in the shortest time through your system and thus providing the most "arterial exercise".
So if you are not including HIIT in your regular exercise program then here is another powerful motivator to do so.
It will not only improve your overall health but also help you slow your aging process, and reduce the cardiovascular risks arising from biological aging.
But wait, there's more! Stiffer arteries linked to amyloid plaques in the brain
While high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stiffening of the arteries are well-known contributors to cardiovascular disease, it's been recently found to be even more serious.
These same factors may also promote the development of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. In a study published in Neurology, researchers conducted brain scans on 91 elderly men and women. Although none of the participants showed signs of dementia, about half had significant amounts of amyloid deposits in their brains.
Study participants also underwent tests for cardiovascular health. One test measured arterial stiffness. Those with the stiffest arteries showed more amyloid plaque in the brain as well as a greater number of lesions in brain's "white matter," a marker of trouble in the small arteries. This is kind of frightening, and hopeful at the same time.
Here's another fantastic thing!!
Exercise has been shown to initiate substantial new mitochondrial development in the brain. This not only reenergises your brain cells, and trains your brain to allow you to exercise more, but it also protects you against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
And exercise also has been shown to set in train the cleaning out of the metabolic and cellular waste in the brain. When you exercise the stimulated flow of blood combined with the stimulated flow of cerebrosinal fluid literally washes away toxins - including beta-amyloid - and supplies nutrients for neurogenesis (regrowing of brain cells).
The incredible blood and brain benefits of exercise
I'm going to list the benefits from above, because I find them so incredible from just exercising:
By exercising, we can:
Any one of those would be worth having for an investment in exercise. But we get the whole lot. Incredible!
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building body-shaping training for people our age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter