The study, called The Effect of Lifelong Exercise Frequency on Arterial Stiffness, examined 102 people over the age of 60 who identified themselves as being physically active throughout their lives.
Noting that as people age, their arteries begin to stiffen, researchers measured the arterial stiffness of participants and divided them into four different groups based on the amount of time they dedicated to working out. The groups were defined as sedentary (people who worked out less than twice a week), casual exercisers (exercising two to three times a week), committed exerciser (four to five workouts a week) and master athletes (six to seven sweat sessions weekly).
Based on their observations, officials involved in the study determined that those who reported working out two to three times a week had youthful, middle-sized arteries, which are important for blood flow to the head and neck. The "committed exercisers" who hit the gym four or five days out of seven were even healthier, with middle-sized arteries and large central arteries, which helped to facilitate blood flow to the chest and abdomen. Master athletes and committed exercisers both had younger, healthier hearts than the sedentary group.
Though various forms of exercise can help reduce heart disease-related deaths overall, researchers suggested that their new findings can help to "develop exercise programs to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels."
Considering that the study did not indicate the intensity and what kind of exercises the participants did, Benjamin Levine, one of the study's authors, told Time that the main message "is that exercise needs to be part of your personal hygiene."
Levine told the publication that in his own practice he recommends his patients to do high intensity workouts at least once a week and moderately intense session two or three times. On the weekends, take it easy with a fun physical activity, he suggested.
Although officials indicated that waiting until the age of 70 isn't ideal for preventing heart aging, they did conclude that beginning different forms of exercise before the age of 65 would have a positive impact.
According to the CDC, heart disease is one of the leading causes of deaths among Americans, USA Today reported.