Help your heart by getting active

Recent research has added a further tick to the list of exercise benefits, discovering that a specific hormone released during exercise makes the heart function better.

The US study found that irisin, a hormone that surges when the heart and other muscles are exerted, has proven to have numerous positive effects on the heart. According to Li-Jun Yang, a professor of hematopathology in the UF College of Medicine’s department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine, irisin ‘makes the heart work better by creating more oxygen and energy consumption’.

Professor Yang and her colleagues also found that irisin elevates levels of calcium within cells, which is vital for heart contractions. The research further determined that irisin increases metabolism in mitochondria, the part of a cell that supplies energy for a variety of heart functions.

According to Professor Yang, these findings all point to the benefit of irisin for overall heart health. She explains that ‘increased calcium and cellular metabolism make the heart work better, and when your heart is working better, you feel better’.

Physical activity is the easiest and most efficient way to stimulate irisin’s beneficial effects. While the study did not specify how much exercise is needed to benefit the heart, the Australian government’s Physical Activity Guidelines provides a suitable indication of the amount of exercise we should aim to engage in each week. The guidelines stipulate that adults should partake in 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week.

Source: PLOS ONE