Interval workouts for older women may improve health of blood vessels
Short bouts of interval exercise may be most beneficial for older women at increased risk of heart-related illness, according to new University of Leeds research.
The study of 15 women, published in the BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine journal, looked into the effects of both continuous and interval exercise on important angiogenic cells in the body which support blood vessel growth.
It focused on post-menopausal women because the risk of cardiovascular disease increases as oestrogen levels drop, which lead to the body’s natural repair mechanisms becoming less sensitive.
The drop in hormones, coupled with rising age, also reduces the number of angiogenic cells, so finding ways to encourage the efficient operation of those remaining is key to giving women a chance of good heart and blood vessel health.
The research found while neither continuous or interval exercise increased the number of angiogenic cells in the blood, interval exercise encouraged greater function of those cells already in circulation, and stimulated their ability to form colonies which can improve blood vessel growth and repair.
The findings showed that one session of interval exercise was more effective than 30 minutes of moderate intensity continuous exercise – one of the key Government-recommended guidelines - when it comes to increasing angiogenic cell activity in post-menopausal women.
Exercise has long been recommended for postmenopausal women, but this is the first study to link certain types of exercise to the activities of angiogenic cells. It measured the response of the women in a trial to produce the current findings. The research group’s report said further studies should be an imperative and more research was required to understand exactly how the process operates.