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Reducing Few Calories Can Improve Heart Health

A new study found that cutting 250 Calories a day with moderate exercise reaped bigger rewards than exercise alone for older, obese adults. Older adults with obesity can combine aerobic exercise with a moderate reduction in daily Calories resulting in greater improvements in aortic stiffness compared to exercise only or to exercise plus a more restrictive diet.  The new study was published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

New lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet and regular physical activity may help offset age-related increases in aortic stiffness. Although aerobic exercise generally has favorable effects on aortic structure and function, previous studies have shown that exercise alone may not be sufficient to improve aortic stiffness in older adults with obesity.Tina E. Brinkley, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at the Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina said that this is the first study to assess the effects of aerobic exercise training with and without reducing Calories on aortic stiffness, which was measured via cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) to obtain detailed images of the aorta.

Researchers strived to determine whether adding caloric restriction for weight loss would lead to greater improvements in vascular health compared to aerobic exercise alone in older adults with obesity.This randomized controlled trial included 160 sedentary adults, ages 65–79 years with obesity. The average age of the participants was 69 years; 74% were female, and 73% were white. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three intervention groups for 20 weeks first the exercise only with their regular diet. After that exercise with moderate calorie restriction. Then exercise with more intensive calorie restriction.

The two calorie-restricted groups received pre-made lunches and dinners with less than 30% of Calories from fat and at least 0.8 grams of protein per kg of their ideal body weight. These meals are prepared under the direction of a registered dietitian for the study; they make their breakfasts. Everyone in the study received supervised aerobic exercise training four days per week for the duration of the 20-week study at the Geriatric Research Center at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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