The heart itself is a complex muscular organ that rhythmically contracts for the duration of our lives. Each year, the many diseases that afflict the heart and circulatory system kill more people than anything else, and the best protection is regular exercise. We know that exercise improves heart function in many ways, but the latest finding is that it reverses the ageing processes in the heart. Ageing leads to DNA damage and the loss of telomeres (which protect chromosomes). Exercise has a direct action to increase heart DNA and telomere repair. So to be young at heart – exercise!
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Professor David Cameron-Smith is a regular Fit Planet contributor. A transplanted Australian living in New Zealand, he obtained a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from Deakin University, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. His research interests include the importance of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health in an ageing population, and the impact of nutrition in regulating the function of muscles.