Table of contents:
Stretching can help prevent heart attacks and strokes
In the study, scientists evaluated the benefits of passive stretching, which can be done both independently and with the help of other people.
Photo: madison lavern / Unsplash
Passive stretching can improve vascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Its effect is visible even after a short course of exercise, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiology.
Exercises for passive stretching are done with the help of an external force - your own (with the use of additional devices or without them) or assistants (partners, instructors, paramedics).
The study, which was conducted by scientists from the University of Milan, involved 39 people. They were divided into two groups: one group (experimental) did passive leg stretching exercises at least five times a week for 12 weeks. The second group (control) did not do such exercises.
At the end of the study, the researchers checked the condition of the blood vessels in the legs and forearms of the participants. In people who performed the exercises, the vessels became more elastic (the stiffness decreased, they began to expand better in response to stimulation), and blood flow increased in them.
The detected changes in blood vessels can help reduce the risk of diseases such as myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke: impaired blood flow control is one of their causes.
In the future, scientists want to know if these exercises can be used not only for prevention, but also for the treatment of cardiovascular pathologies. Passive stretching works especially well for people with reduced mobility. Another potential area of application for passive stretching is in helping hospitalized patients and after surgery.
Emiliano Ce, author of the study, believes these findings are especially relevant during a pandemic, when the ability to do other exercise to prevent heart disease may be limited.