HealthDay News — Two years of high-intensity exercise training (ExT) is associated with improved maximal oxygen uptake and reduced cardiac stiffness in previously sedentary healthy middle-aged adults, according to a study published in Circulation.

Erin J. Howden, PhD, from the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, and colleagues randomized 61 healthy, sedentary, middle-aged participants to 2 years of ExT or attention control (control); 53 participants completed the study. Left ventricular (LV) end-diastolic pressure-volume relationships (EDPVR) and Frank-Starling curves were defined using right heart catheterization and 3-dimensional echocardiography. Changes in fitness were quantified using maximal oxygen uptake.

The researchers found that there was 88%±11% adherence to prescribed exercise sessions. Maximal oxygen uptake increased by 18% (ExT: 34.4±6.4; control: 28.7±5.4; P <.001), while there was a reduction in LV stiffness in the ExT group (right/downward shift in the EDPVR: ExT: pre- to post-stiffness constant: 0.072±0.037 to 0.051±0.0268; P <.0018) but not in controls (pre- to post-stiffness constant: 0.0635±0.026 to 0.062±0.031; P =.83). LV end-diastolic volume was increased by exercise (P <.001), while there was no change in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, resulting in greater stroke volume for any given filling pressure (P =.007).

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“In previously sedentary healthy middle-age adults, two years of exercise training improved maximal oxygen uptake and decreased cardiac stiffness,” the authors wrote.

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Howden EJ, Sarma S, Lawley JS, et al. Reversing the cardiac effects of sedentary aging in middle age- a randomized controlled trial: implications for heart failure prevention [published online January 8, 2018] Circulation. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030617