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As you probably now, hardening of the arteries is the main sign of heart disease. What happens is that fat and cholesterol deposits form arterial plaques that cause the arteries to stiffen and harden. But fish oil supplementation is proven to have the opposite effect–it makes the blood vessels more elastic. Specifically, the omega–3 fats in fish oil make the cell membranes of arterial cells softer and more pliable. As a result, the arteries are better able to expand to increase blood flow and are less susceptible to damage.
Exercise also increases the elasticity of the blood vessels. More elastic blood vessels are beneficial for exercise because they allow greater blood flow to the working muscles, enhancing performance. So what happens when fish oil supplementation and exercise are combined? Researchers from the University of South Australia recently answered this question with an interesting study.
Twenty–five elite rugby players were divided into two groups. One group took a daily fish oil supplement and the other group took a placebo (sunflower oil) during a five–week training camp. Before and after this five–week period, all of the subjects completed a pair of high–intensity treadmill running test.
Performance in the running test improved equally in both groups at the end of five weeks. So fish oil apparently had no effect on performance. However, the athletes receiving the fish oil had a lower heart rate in the second running test than in the first, while the athletes in the placebo group did not. This result indicates that fish oil made high–intensity running less stressful on the body.
In addition, blood triglycerides and blood pressure decreased significantly in the fish oil group compared to the placebo group. So not only did fish oil make these athletes better able to handle the stress of hard exercise, but it also improved their general cardiovascular health, just as it does in non–athletes.
A More Powerful Heart
If that wasn´t enough, another new study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that fish oil supplementation increased heart stroke volume (or the amount of blood the heart pumps with each contraction) and cardiac output (or the total amount of blood pumped by the heart) during low– to moderate–intensity exercise.
Researchers from the University of California–Davis divided twelve subjects into two groups. Members of one group took a fish oil supplement daily for six weeks while members of the other group received a placebo. Both groups performed a 20–minute stationary bike workout at low and moderate intensities before and after the intervention.
TInterestingly, while fish oil supplementation had no effect on heart rate during the workout, it increased stroke volume and cardiac output significantly during the workout, whereas the placebo did not. This result suggests that fish oil supplementation makes the heart more powerful, again just like exercise itself does.
Two Is Better than One
These new studies show that exercise and fish oil together are better for your cardiovascular health and fitness than either one is alone. So if you´re currently taking fish oil and not exercising, get moving! And if you already exercise but you don´t take fish oil, do yourself a favor and purchase a bottle of OmegaEnergy Fish Oil. Your heart will thank you!