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Good Housekeeping
Charlene J. Owen, Contributor
November 11, 2012

Exercise May Boost Stem Cells and Repair Heart Damage

For people with heart conditions, getting physical might just be the key to getting better. By Charlene J. Owen

Exercise doesn’t only help keep those unwanted inches off--it also jump-starts stem cells in the heart, promoting tissue restoration for those who have previously suffered heart attacks.

The Telegraph reports that breaking sweat with a simple 30-minute exercise may partially repair damage caused by heart conditions in adults. Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University did laboratory tests and found that exercise can “wake up” around 60 percent of dormant heart stem cells and increase cardiomyocites, which are cells that form the cardiac muscle.

"The exercise is increasing the growth factors which are activating the stem cells to go on and repair the heart, and this is the first time that this potential has been shown. We hope it might be even more effective in damaged hearts because you have got more reason to replace the large amount of cells that are lost," lead author Dr. Georgina Ellison shares.

Athough more research is needed to fully understand how to harness the power of these newly activated stem cells, it pays to get up and get moving. There are many light and moderate exercises out there that can be done without straining the body. If you have a heart condition and you're seeking to stay fit and healthy, ask your doctor or trainer for physical activities that suit your specific situation.    

(Photo by daveynin via Flickr Creative Commons)

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