The aging effect on microvascular integrity, marked by endothelial dysfunction and reduction in exercise tolerance, is a major cause of CVD (cardiovascular disease). Improved dietary habits, known to reduce morbidity and mortality, are also known to attenuate those aging effects. The present study investigated the effects of combined MD (Mediterranean diet) and exercise intervention on lower- and upper-limb cutaneous microvascular functions in an older healthy population. A total of 22 sedentary healthy participants (age, 55±4 years) underwent cardiopulmonary exercise tolerance test, and were assessed for their upper- and lower-limb vascular endothelial CVC (cutaneous vascular conductance) using LDF (laser Doppler fluximetry) with endothelium-dependent [ACh (acetylcholine chloride)] and -independent [SNP (sodium nitroprusside)] vasodilation. Participants were then randomized into two groups: MD and non-MD, and followed an 8-week intervention programme, which included discontinuous treadmill running based on each individual's exertion, twice per week. Exercise training improved CVC in both groups (e.g. 0.42±0.19 compared with 1.50±1.05 and 0.47±0.26 compared with 1.15±0.59 at 1000 μCb for MD and non-MD respectively; P<0.001). This was also combined by improvement in the exercise tolerance indicated by increased VT (ventilatory threshold) in both groups [12.2±2.8 compared with 14.8±2.8 ml·(kg of body weight)−1·min−1 and 11.7±2.7 compared with 14.6±3.2 ml·(kg of body weight)−1·min−1 for MD and non-MD groups respectively; P<0.05]. However, the MD group showed greater improvement in endothelium-dependent vasodilation than non-MD [ANCOVA (analyses of co-variance), P=0.02]. The results of the present study suggest that compliance with MD, combined with regular moderate exercise, improves age-provoked microcirculatory endothelial dysfunction and increases exercise tolerance, both responsible for reducing cardiovascular risk in this age group.

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