We know that exercising can improve your heart health, but what about stretching? Learn how 12 weeks of stretching for heart health works.
According to a new study, 12 weeks of passive stretching can improve your blood flow and heart health. The findings show that passive stretching may increase circulation in the arteries while decreasing artery stiffness. Researchers note that there was a decrease in blood pressure, reduction of peripheral arterial stiffness, and increases in vascular function.
As a result of their findings, the researchers suggest that this type of stretching can improve heart health. While active stretching doesn’t rely on external force, passive stretching involves a stretching partner, stretching accessories, or gravity to work.
“In this Italian study, there was a significant improvement in flow-mediated dilation,” says Jonathan Myers, Ph.D. “[This] can be thought of as the ability of an artery to dilate in response to an increase in [circulation].” Myers is a health research scientist and director of the Exercise Research Laboratory at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System in California.
“This study is exciting because it shows similar benefits with non-cardio training,” says Dr. Nicole M. Weinberg. “If this can be reproduced with vascular disease patients, perhaps it will change exercise programs, cardiac rehab, and other aspects of rehabilitation from vascular disease.” Weinberg is a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Vascular Disease Risks
When the arteries or blood vessels are experiencing any abnormal conditions, it is called vascular disease. Common vascular disease conditions include stroke, a blood clot (pulmonary embolism), and heart attacks as a result of poor circulation. Since healthy blood flow transports necessary oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, poor circulation puts the body’s organs at risk.
“Things that interfere with [good blood flow] have to do with arterial stiffness and blockage,” says Weinberg. “Arterial stiffness is dangerous since once it sets in, it can be difficult to reverse.”
Improving Arterial Health
If you want to reduce stiffness in your arteries, try aerobic exercises, losing weight, and treating high blood pressure. “Regular exercise and keeping risk factors controlled are the most important things one can do [to ensure healthy arteries],” says Myers. “The results from this study also suggest that stretching improves vascular function.”
While the study looks promising, more research is necessary to confirm the effects on people with vascular disease. The best thing to do is to include stretching as a part of your heart-healthy workouts instead of only stretching.
Stretching for Heart Health
Based on the study, it seems like it’s a good idea to incorporate stretching into your exercise routine. If you’re looking for more ways to promote your heart health, try a daily supplement like L-arginine Plus.
Its ingredients help increase the production of nitric oxide, a natural compound that relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation Try L-arginine Plus along with a regular exercise routine if you want to support your heart health effectively.