Older adults with obesity who combine aerobic exercise with eating slightly fewer calories each day see greater improvements in blood vessel health than those who just exercise or who exercise and eat a more restrictive diet, new research finds, according to a study in the American Heart Association News.
The study found eating just 200 fewer calories per day while increasing physical activity could help offset age-related stiffening of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Aortic stiffness is a measure of blood vessel health and a risk factor for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.
The aorta, which brings oxygen and vital nutrients from the heart to other key organs, stiffens as people age. When it does, the heart has to work harder to contract and pump blood throughout the body. Chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and obesity can accelerate aging and cause the aorta to stiffen at a younger age. Higher body mass index, body weight, total body fat and abdominal fat, as well as a larger waist circumference, all are associated with increased aortic stiffness.