We investigated whether a session of prior exercise could ameliorate postprandial endothelial dysfunction. Endothelial function is impaired after fat ingestion, and this may be related to rises in triglyceride concentrations. Exercise reduces postprandial triglyceride concentrations. Ten lean (waist <90 cm) and 10 centrally obese (waist >100 cm) middle-aged men each underwent two oral fat tolerance tests (blood taken fasting and for 8 h after a high-fat meal containing 80 g fat and 70 g carbohydrate). On the afternoon before one test, subjects performed a 90-min treadmill walk (exercise); no exercise was performed before the control test. Endothelium-dependent and -independent microvascular function was assessed using laser Doppler imaging in the fasted state and at two hourly intervals during the 8-h postprandial period. Exercise reduced both fasting and postprandial triglyceride concentrations by 25% in both the lean and centrally obese groups (p < 0.0005). For all subjects taken together, exercise improved fasting endothelium-dependent function by 25% (p < 0.05), and, although there was a significant postprandial decrease in both endothelium-dependent and -independent function in both the control and exercise trials (p < 0.01), postprandial endothelium-dependent and -independent function were 15% and 20% higher, respectively, in the exercise trial than the control trial (both p < 0.05). A session of prior exercise improves fasting and postprandial vascular function in middle-aged men. This may be one mechanism by which exercise influences cardiovascular risk.
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