HealthDay News — Combining aerobic exercise with moderate caloric restriction (CR) results in greater improvements in proximal aortic stiffness among obese older adults, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in Circulation.

Tina E. Brinkley, Ph.D., from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues randomly assigned older adults with obesity to one of three groups: aerobic training only, aerobic training plus moderate CR, or aerobic training plus more intensive CR (56, 55, and 49 participants, respectively) for 20 weeks.

The researchers found that compared with the aerobic training-only group, weight loss was significantly greater in the groups undergoing aerobic training plus moderate CR and aerobic training plus more intensive CR (−8.0 and −8.98, respectively, versus −1.66 kg). Significant treatment effects were seen for descending aorta distensibility and strain, as well as aortic arch pulse wave velocity; the aerobic exercise plus moderate CR group had an increase in distensibility of 21 percent and a decrease in pulse wave velocity of 8 percent. No significant changes were seen in any of the aortic stiffness measures in the aerobic exercise training-only group or the aerobic exercise plus more intensive CR group; no significant changes in any other measure of aortic structure or function were seen in these groups.

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“These results suggest that combining exercise with modest calorie restriction — as opposed to more intensive calorie restriction or no calorie restriction — likely maximizes the benefits on vascular health, while also optimizing weight loss and improvements in body composition and body fat distribution,” Brinkley said in a statement. “The finding that higher-intensity calorie restriction may not be necessary or advised has important implications for weight loss recommendations to improve cardiovascular disease risk in older adults with obesity.”

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