As we get older, we tend to become less active, and over time this can cause the muscle in our hearts become stiffer.
The left chamber of the heart (the left ventricle), an area that plays a vital role in supplying all our muscles, organs and tissues with oxygenated blood, is at particular risk of becoming less compliant as we age.
A 2018 study in Circulation journal split 53 adults into two groups, one of which did two years of supervised cardio and basic resistance exercise four to five days a week while the other did flexibility and balance exercises.
The types of cardio included outdoor activities like trail running, cycling or swimming but also indoor activities such as using a stationary cycle ergometer, treadmill or elliptical trainer.
At the end of the study, the higher-intensity exercisers had seen significant improvements in their heart’s performance, suggesting that some stiffening in the heart can be prevented or even reversed with regular cardio exercise.
The authors conclusion: “Regular exercise training may provide protection against the future risk of heart failure with a preserved ejection fraction by preventing the increase in cardiac stiffness attributable to sedentary aging”