Tracie and I stumbled on an article written in Science Daily entitled “Exercise could make the heart younger” and we were immediately fascinated. The researchers from Harvard University found that after a heart attack, mice were able to make new heart muscle cells if they exercised. We were always taught that the heart cells die after a blockage and/or a heart attack and that the heart muscle will be compromised and unable to perform at the same level as prior to an incident. This article offered some mind-blowing data to contradict this traditional thinking. Exercise stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, and this is both before any heart damage (so under normal conditions) and post-heart attack.
When researchers gave the mice an opportunity to access a treadmill, they got a lot of exercise and these mice showed an increase of heart cells of 4.5 times over their sedentary mice counterparts. Other mice were then given heart attacks but also access to treadmills. These mice voluntarily used their treadmills and then were shown to increase the number of new heart cells in the area of the damage. These mice were regenerating their heart tissue!
One of the lead researchers was quoted as saying “maintaining a healthy heart requires balancing the loss of heart muscle cells due to injury or aging with the regeneration or birth of new heart muscle cells.”
Now what? What if you’ve had a heart attack or experienced a cardiac incident? What should you do? If you want to get active and re-grow new heart muscle, it is possible, but where do you start?
Our Restore class has seen a recent increase in the number of participants. People that want to be more active often need to retrain their bodies to move properly again. Once you have taught your body the correct joint movement, increased your range of motion in many joints, and stretched out tight muscles, you can move more. You have to move properly first and then you can move more. If you don’t go in this order, you are setting yourself up for an injury (which means PAIN). And that usually means ‘staying still until you feel better.’
Restore is our all-inclusive class for people with arthritis, joint replacements, or other complicated medical issues (including heart disease) that need a safe place to start moving again. Our participants work in both seated and standing positions to simply connect to their bodies and movement again. Once people in this Restore group feel like they’ve ‘restored’ their movement patterns, they move to the next level where they can challenge themselves to more strength and cardiovascular work. There are options but you have to start at the basics!
I’m glad we found this mice study. I know which mice group I’d like to be in … I have a treadmill and an opportunity for daily physical activity. I am going to continue forward knowing that I have 4.5 times the number of new heart muscle cells. I am making my heart younger!!