Sedentary people are at greater risk of heart muscle shrinkage and stiffening, which increases risk of heart failure. The American Heart Association News reports a study on 50 sedentary men and women, ages 45-64 participating in aerobic exercise and yoga, at least four days a week, for two years. Those doing aerobic activity showed improvements in oxygen uptake and less cardiac stiffness. Those doing only yoga did not show a change in oxygen uptake or reduced heart stiffness. The ‘sweet spot’ for improvement is participating in aerobic activity, done for approximately 30 minutes, 4-5 days a week. The exercise should include ‘interval’ type exercise where the participant increases intensity to 95% of maximum heart rate (the hardest they can do) for 4 minutes, then 3 minutes of recovery. They repeat this session plan for 30 minutes.
Although yoga did not change heart muscle shrinkage and stiffening, it did show great promise with balance and decreased ‘fall risk’, which is a leading cause of failing health in the elderly. Integrative healthcare providers (IH) would do well advising patients to combine both types of exercise for better health of all geriatric patients. It should be noted that although this study was done on geriatric patients, this plan would also be recommended for younger populations.