When older men gain more from exercise than women
REGULAR exercise may be more beneficial for middle-aged men than post-menopausal women, researchers have concluded.
Loughborough University experts examined the effects of regular exercise training on the blood vessels of 12 men and post-menopausal women.
Blood pressure and arterial stiffness were assessed before and one hour after a brisk walk. The team’s preliminary findings suggest that arterial stiffness – a risk factor for heart disease – is higher in women compared with men of a similar age.
A single bout of brisk walking improved arterial stiffness and blood pressure in both groups, but arterial stiffness remained higher in women.
Research has shown regular exercise helps reduce the stiffening of the arteries, which in turn lowers a person’s risk of developing heart or circulatory disease. However, the blood vessels of men and women appear to adapt differently to regular exercise, with post-menopausal women demonstrating fewer benefits than men.
The researchers are now looking at whether daily folic acid supplements could help older women reduce their risk by relaxing the blood vessels and reducing strain on the heart.
Jen Craig, the doctoral student ucarrying out the research said: “Regular physical activity is associated with lower risk of car- diovascular disease.
“However, regular exercise does not seem to benefit the blood vessels of post-menopausal women as much as it does their male counterparts.
“If we are to help women to decrease their risk of heart disease, we need to consider alternative strategies that may enable these women to maximise their benefits from engaging in regular exercise.”
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This research adds to our understanding of the relationship between physical activity and heart disease as we get older.
“If you’re more physically active you give yourself the best chance of a heart-healthy retirement. Although post-menopausal women don’t see quite the same exercise benefits as men, staying active will still reduce their overall risk of developing heart disease.”