It’s no secret that fit and flexible folks are healthier than overweight people who lead sedentary lifestyles. But did you know that your own flexibility can actually tell you a lot about your heart health and even predict your risk of developing heart disease? It’s true, and recent studies confirm it.
Many people who are into yoga, and yogis themselves, have long preached about the benefits of flexibility. And it’s no wonder really – being flexible often comes hand in hand with being physically fit, and we all know that physical fitness is associated with cardiovascular fitness. In essence, the more active, flexible and physically fit you are, the better your muscle strength and heart health, and the lesser your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
And recent studies not only confirm this, but also add that you can test your own cardiovascular health with a simple flexibility exercise.
Flexibility and Heart Health
Recruiting more than 500 people aged 20 to 83 and testing their flexibility, scientists from the University of North Texas along with their Japanese colleagues, wanted to see if being flexible has anything to do with artery and heart health. And as it turns out – it does.
In the experiment, the participants were asked to touch their toes while their blood pressure was measured and their arteries and heart activity was monitored. Then, according to their age, gender and flexibility, the participants were sorted into groups – either high-flexibility or poor-flexibility group.
The scientists found that there was a strong correlation between being inflexible and having ‘inflexible’, stiff arteries. In other words, the more inflexible the participants were, the higher their risk for heart disease was. This was especially true for adults over 40.
The takeaway? Exercise more and work on your flexibility! And until you’re physically fit as you can be, try this little test yourself:
While sitting straight on a chair, try to touch your toes. If you can do it with no problem whatsoever, great. If you cannot or you find it hard to breathe normally, consider talking to your cardiologist.