If you are overweight, eat less or exercise more to have a youthful heart, a new study in US reiterates.
The scientists examined a group of healthy, overweight but not obese, middle-aged men and women and found that a yearlong regimen of either calorie restriction or exercise increase had positive effects on their heart function.
All the participants of the study were non-smokers between ages of 50 and 60 years and had Body Mass Index (BMIs) between 23.5 and 30, higher than normal. BMI is a statistical measure of the weight of a person according to height.
None of the participants had diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer or lung disease. Before enrolling in the study, all were relatively sedentary - they exercised less than 20 minutes a day or twice a week.
Twelve participants (four men and eight women) reduced the amount of calories they ate by 12 to 15 percent but did not change their physical activity.
Thirteen participants (six men and seven women) were in the exercise group who increased their exercise to burn the caloric equivalent of the other group's caloric reduction.
The exercise group exercised about six days a week for an hour each session - walking, running, cycling or doing elliptical training. Their caloric intake did not change.
By the end of the yearlong study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, both the groups of volunteers lost 12 percent of their weight and 12 percent of their BMI.
In both groups, participants' hearts responded to the weight loss by gaining the ability to relax more quickly, recovering some of the elasticity characteristic of younger heart tissue.
Those in the calorie restriction group achieved slightly more reduction of heart stiffness.
The study was part of a larger trial designed to investigate the feasibility of long-term calorie restriction in humans, science portal EurekAlert reported.
"If individuals want to do something that's good for their heart, then my message to them is lose weight by the method they find most tolerable," study's senior author Sándor J. Kovács said.
"They're virtually guaranteed that it will have a salutary effect on their cardiovascular system."