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Aerobic Exercise Combined With Moderate Daily Calorie Reduction May Help Improve Aortic Stiffness

Aortic stiffness occurs when the elastic fibers within the arterial wall begin to fray due to mechanical stress. Obesity may accelerate age-related increases in aortic stiffness. According to a new study, combining aerobic exercise with a decrease of 250 calories per day may help improve aortic stiffness in obese older adults.

Participants included 160 obese, sedentary adults between the ages of 65 and 79. They were assigned to one of three interventions for 20 weeks:

  1. Exercise only with regular diet:
  2. Exercise plus reduction of 250 calories per day:
  3. Exercise plus reduction of 600 calories per day.

The exercise consisted of supervised aerobic training on a treadmill for 30 minutes 4 days per week. Cardiovascular MRI was used to evaluate aortic stiffness at baseline and at the end of the study period.

Participants in the two calorie restricted groups lost an average of 20 pounds, compared to 4 pounds in the exercise only group. Participants in the 250-calorie restricted group saw significant improvements in aortic stiffness, including a 21% decrease in distensibility and an 8% decrease in pulse wave velocity. No significant changes were seen in the exercise only group or the 600-calorie restricted group.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine. It was published online ahead of print on August 2, 2021, in the journal Circulation.

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