How 12 Weeks of Stretching Can Improve Your Heart Health

  • Researchers say 12 weeks of passive stretching can improve blood flow and improve your heart health.
  • They say the stretching can reduce problems in a person’s vascular system and decrease the risk of events such as heart attack and stroke.
  • Experts say aerobic exercise, weight loss, and lower blood pressure are also ways to improve heart health.

Just 12 weeks of passive stretching can help the vascular system and improve blood flow, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Milan in Italy found that those who engaged in passive stretching had increased blood flow in their arteries and a decrease in artery stiffness.

“Blood pressure was decreased, central and peripheral arterial stiffness was reduced, and vascular function was increased after 12 weeks of passive stretching training,” the authors of the study wrote.

They note that this kind of stretching can improve a person’s heart health.

Passive stretching is a stretch where an external force provides the stretch. This can be through a stretching partner, stretching accessories, or gravity.

Active stretching doesn’t involve an external force.

The Dangers of Vascular Disease

Stroke, blood clot (pulmonary embolism), and heart attack can occur when blood flow is affected by arteries that are damaged or not working well.

“Good blood flow leads to reduced pressure within the system, leading to less damage on the wall of the artery. Reduction in blood flow due to artery/arteries not being compliant can lead to elevated blood pressure, which can increase risk of stroke and heart attack,” Dr. Sanjiv Patel, an interventional cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in California, told Healthline.

Blood flow allows oxygenated blood to travel through the vascular system to tissues throughout the body. Without good blood flow, organs throughout the body are at risk.

“Good flow helps bring oxygenated blood to all our tissues. It is critical to have good blood flow to ensure that all the organs are working properly. Things that interfere with this have to do with arterial stiffness and blockage. Stiffness and blockage come from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation,” Weinberg said.

“Arterial stiffness is dangerous since once it sets in, it can be difficult to reverse. You want to address it early and work on mechanisms like stretching in the hopes of increasing the elasticity of the vessels,” she added.

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