Purpose: We used the rabbit model of obesity and exercise training to determine effects of exercise training during the development of obesity on resting blood pressure and heart rate, ventricular hypertrophy, blood volume, and hormonal profile.
Methods: Female New Zealand white rabbits were assigned to one of four groups: lean sedentary (L-S, N = 17), lean exercise-trained (L-EX, N = 16), obese sedentary (O-S, N = 18), and obese exercise-trained (O-EX, N = 15). Lean rabbits were fed a maintenance diet whereas obese rabbits were fed an ad libitum high fat (10% added fat) diet. Simultaneously, exercise-trained animals underwent a progressive treadmill exercise training protocol for 12 wk. After 12 wk of diet and exercise regimens, resting blood pressure and heart rate were measured from a central ear artery catheter. Ventricular hypertrophy was evaluated using wet ventricular weights. Blood volume was measured using the Evans blue dye procedure; hormonal profile was evaluated from arterial plasma/serum samples.
Results: After 12 wk, O-S and O-EX had similar body weights and similar percentage increases in body weight. Despite similar body weights, O-EX had an approximate 6-mm Hg lower mean blood pressure compared with the elevated pressure seen in O-S (P < or = 0.05). Obese rabbits had greater resting heart rate, plasma cholesterol and triglycerides, and plasma renin activity compared with lean rabbits, and these values were unaffected by exercise training. Plasma and blood volumes, as well as plasma insulin, cortisol, and aldosterone were unaffected by exercise training.
Conclusion: These data suggest that exercise training, in the absence of differences in body weight, may be useful in the reduction of obesity-induced hypertension but that other therapies may be needed in order to control other cardiovascular risk factors.