News & Insights 1 June 2021

Healthy heart, healthy body, healthy mind!

The importance of heart health is undeniable. Acting as the pump of oxygen-rich blood around the body, if it stops functionally properly, your whole body begins shutting down. Recent research has shown that not only is keeping your heart healthy and strong essential for keeping the body healthy, it’s also associated with better cognitive abilities too!

The research, led by Queen Mary University of London and the Radcliffe Department of Medicine at University of Oxford, examined links between heart health and cognitive function in over 32,000 UK Biobank participants. It was found that people with a healthier heart structure and function, determined by MRI scans, appear to have increased capacity to solve logic problems and have faster reaction times.

Previous research has focused on vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in people who have already developed heart disease. This study was carried out in a large group of healthy individuals and highlights the importance of keeping your heart healthy and strong, not only to prevent you developing conditions like heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but also for improving your cognitive function.

Heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are all vascular diseases and have shared risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity. The researchers suggest that, although these factors are important in influencing brain and heart health, there is another mechanism which correlates heart health and cognitive ability that needs to be investigated further.

Whilst it will take time to understand this mechanism, establish strategies for early prevention and reduce the burden of heart and brain disease, there are steps we can all take right now to improve our heart health. Regular physical activity is vital to a strong, functional heart. This is because the heart is a muscle just like the other muscles in our body, becoming more conditioned, efficient and strong as it adapts to the increased demand as we use it more. This could be using it more often, for longer at one time, or increasing the intensity of the activities, as all of these factors will require more blood to be pumped to the muscles around the body, to provide them with the energy to create movement.

Importantly, physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure, which requires oxygen that is pumped to the skeletal muscles in the blood by the heart. As such, it is important that we account for all the movements in our lifestyles – not just exercise. In fact, at KiActiv® we empower individuals to find a personalised understanding of the value of movement in their daily routine, to unlock the unlimited benefits of increasing everyday physical activity to their heart, body and mind!

The KiActiv® Team