Exercise can help combat muscle wasting and other complications associated with aging and heart failure, a new study reveals.
To study the effects of cardiac rehab on muscle strength, researchers took muscle biopsies from 60 heart failure patients and 60 healthy study participants. Then, half of the participants in each group were randomly assigned to four weeks of supervised aerobic training or no exercise. After the exercise intervention, researchers conducted another round of muscle biopsies.
Investigators found that heart failure patients 55 and under increased their peak oxygen uptake by 25%, while those 65 and over increased it by 27%. What’s more, younger and older heart failure patients increased muscle strength after the four-week exercise regimen.
“Many physicians — and insurance companies — still believe that cardiac rehabilitation does not really help in old age. This study clearly falsifies this belief,” lead author Stephan Gielen, M.D., said. “Exercise switches off the muscle-wasting pathways and switches on pathways involved in muscle growth,” he added.
The study was published May 7 in the journal Circulation.