Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 23, 2004
A stroll after Christmas dinner is part of many families’ festive timetable – but heart experts say a pre-dinner walk is a good idea. Glasgow University research for the British Heart Foundation found it could help reduce the damage done by too much Christmas pudding.
It says a 90-minute walk lowers fat levels in the blood and improves blood vessel function.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
They said the health benefits of a long stroll remained even after the walker had eaten a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal.
The researchers studied 10 lean and 10 obese middle-aged men.
Each was tested twice for his response to a fatty meal, with the tests performed a week or two apart.
On the afternoon before one of the tests, each man walked on a treadmill for 90 minutes. In the second test, no exercise was done.
The researchers found that both lean and obese men benefited from taking exercise.
Levels of triglycerides (blood fats) were reduced by 25% both before and after the fatty meal.
The researchers also looked at the endothelium, the inner wall of the blood vessels which provides an important defence against the build-up of fatty deposits inside the blood vessels.
These deposits can disrupt blood flow and lead to a heart attack.
Exercise appeared to improve the function of the endothelium by 25% before the meal and 15% afterwards.
The researchers say that, as well as offering a timely reminder about the counteracting a rich diet with plenty of exercise, their findings suggested some possible explanations for its protective effects.
They said it showed that exercise can both improve the way the body metabolises food and help blood vessels resist the harmful effects of fatty foods.
And that it demonstrated that just one exercise session can provide immediate benefits that last at least a day. (Source: BBC)