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Increase Flexibility for a Healthy Heart

Increase Flexibility for a Healthy Heart

Touching your toes used to be a gym-class requirement in elementary school. And it might be worth a try to see if you can still do it.

Why? A study suggests that your ability to touch your toes as you get older could reveal a healthy heart. In particular, about the stiffness of the arteries that serve your heart.

Say hello to your toes
It’s good to increase flexibility of your muscles. And the same goes for your blood vessels. The more limber and elastic those vessels are, the better they maintain healthy blood pressure. Now, research suggests there might be a connection between flexible muscles and stretchy blood vessels. In a study, adults 40 and older who had a harder time touching their toes from a sitting position also tended to have stiffer arteries. Their systolic blood pressure numbers were also a bit higher than their more limber peers.

Not a stretch
What's behind this flexibility and healthy-heart connection isn't clear, but we already know that exercising regularly can help delay some of the age-related changes that take place in our blood vessels as we get older—like arterial stiffening. So keep those feet moving and your muscles supple and strong to avoid being sidelined by injury.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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