Increased arterial stiffness is an important risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. The aim of the present study was to compare arterial function and other anthropometric parameters in trained vs sedentary, healthy young students. Furthermore, the study explores the relationship between arterial stiffness and eating behavior in these students.
Two groups of healthy university students were recruited for this study. The first group consisted of 10 men and 8 women (mean age: 23.27 ± 3.2 years) with an athletic predisposition. Furthermore, over the course of 6 months this group participated in 60-min training sessions designed as interval training circuits with a frequency of three to five times a week. For comparison, a group of age-matched sedentary students (5 men and 13 women; 24.27 ± 2.6 years) were recruited from the same institution.
Weight, height, body mass index (BMI), as well as neck and abdominal circumferences (ABs) were recorded. Arterial tension, heart rate, arterial stiffness measurements were simultaneously determined. Lastly, all students completed a 51-item “Eating Behavior Patterns Questionnaire”.
Age, weight, BMI, AB, and blood pressure were not significantly different between the two groups (p > 0.05). The moderately aerobic trained students showed a significantly lower heart rate, neck circumference, and arterial stiffness as compared with their untrained, sedentary counterparts. Additionally, pulse wave velocity (PWV) measurements were correlated to a lower weight, heart rate, blood pressure, AB, and neck circumference (p < 0.05) found in trained subjects at the end of the 6-month training period.
Furthermore, the nutritional habit analysis showed that in the sedentary group, snacking, emotional eating, and cultural/lifestyle behaviors are positively correlated with PWV (p < 0.05).
Healthy subjects with higher PWV may benefit from consistent aerobic exercise training to improve arterial stiffness. Our eating behavior study shows that healthy eating may improve vascular function and therefore can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.