Effects of 6 months of aerobic and resistance exercise training on carotid artery intima media thickness in overweight and obese older women

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2017 Dec;17(12):2304-2310. doi: 10.1111/ggi.12972. Epub 2017 Jan 6.


Aim: We studied the effects of exercise on carotid intima-media thickness, luminal diameter, and flow velocity in overweight and obese older women, and the associations between carotid parameters changes and other variables.

Methods: A total of 41 overweight and obese older women (aged 65-77 years, fat mass percent ≥ 32%), who were divided into a control group (n = 20) and a supervised combined exercise group (n = 21). The 24-week combined exercise program (aerobic and resistance exercise) consisted of sessions 40-80 min in length 5 days per week under the supervision of an exercise specialist. Body composition, blood pressure, physical function and carotid variables were assessed. The differences in all variables, and the relative changes between baseline and 24 weeks' follow up were evaluated.

Results: Carotid intima-media thickness, systolic carotid luminal diameter, peak systolic flow velocity and end diastolic flow velocity showed a significant group × time interaction. No interaction was observed for diastolic luminal diameter. In the exercise group, the change of carotid intima-media thickness was significantly associated with systolic blood pressure, maximal walking speed, 1-mile walking time and maximal oxygen uptake. Also, the change of peak systolic flow velocity was significantly associated with skeletal muscle mass, diastolic blood pressure and maximum walking speed.

Conclusions: Combined exercise can effectively improve carotid intima-media thickness in overweight and obese older women. In addition, exercise training increases the systolic carotid luminal diameter and flow velocity in older women. Therefore, regular combined exercise might help prevent atherosclerotic disease by improving the carotid artery. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2017; 17: 2304-2310.

Keywords: carotid artery intima-media thickness; combined exercise; elderly women; physical function.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure
  • Carotid Arteries
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity
  • Overweight*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Walking Speed