By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African- Americans are at greater risk for developing heart disease. These statistics are pretty well documented and well understood by physicians and researchers, alike. You may find yourself reading this and wondering,
“Why are African Americans more susceptible to heart disease?”
One of the reasons for the heightened risk in African- Americans may be due to an increased thickness in blood vessel walls, which causes a decreased in vascular function. Normal healthy blood vessels have the ability to stretch (dilate) or shrink (constrict) as needed to adjust to the many different stimuli; such as hot or cold temperature changes, exercise or even stress levels. The concept of our blood vessels changing as needed allowing blood to flow freely through the vessel walls is known as vascular compliance. However, the inability of our blood vessels to quickly change to a stimulus can lead to difficulty with blood flow and can potentially lead to heart disease.
Aerobic training can improve blood vessel walls
An exciting new research has found and claims it is the first study to find that eight weeks of aerobic training can improve arterial structure (blood vessel walls) in African American participants. The most interesting part of this research was that the arterial structure of the African- American participants after eight weeks of aerobic training was similar to their Caucasian peers. The results of this study further highlights the importance of aerobic exercise to improve or lessen the risk of developing cardiovascular disease for all people, especially African Americans.
As a side note, the study was conducted on young males and females, which places further importance for anyone at any age to engage in aerobic exercise. Engaging in aerobic exercise at a younger age can significantly improve your chance of lowering the many risk factors of cardiovascular disease. So begin an exercise regimen now, to positively alter the physical properties of your arteries with aerobic exercise, which may save your life years down the road.
*For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
**Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen
Ranadive SM, Yan H, Lane AD, Kappus RM, Cook MD, et al. Aerobic Exercise Training and Arterial Changes in African-Americans versus Caucasians. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2015. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000742