metabolic syndrome

Increasing Nitric Oxide Availability, Vital for Cardiovascular Health


Vasodilators are medications that open (dilate) blood vessels. They prevent the muscles in the walls of arteries and veins from tightening and narrowing. As a result, blood flows more easily through the vessels.1  These medications often have side-effects. 

Your body naturally produces its own vasodilators in the form of nitric oxide gas molecules. Endothelial cells line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. It is there that nitric oxide is synthesized from the interaction of an amino acid and an enzyme and then released throughout the body.  Nitric oxide gas diffuses through the cell walls to transmit signals to the cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems.  Nitric oxide signals the body to2:

·       Reduce blood pressure.

·       Expand and relax blood vessels so that more blood, nutrients, oxygen flow to all parts of your body.

·       Enhance blood flow necessary for male sexual performance.

·       Kill infectious bacteria.

·       Make energy supplying mitochondria more effective.

·       Make muscles more efficient; requiring less oxygen to work out at higher intensities i.e. it's easier for you to push yourself harder.

Nitric oxide levels decline as we age, but we can forestall that. Eat beets and spinach, and get plenty of sunlight and exercise. What type of exercise is best?

According to these studies (study 1 and study 2) “It has been shown high intensity interval training (at 85% to 90% of VO2 max) is more effective in improving endothelial function and nitric oxide availability than continuous moderate aerobic exercise.  These studies were done in humans and rats with metabolic syndrome and found that high intensity interval training reversed more risk factors of metabolic syndrome than did continuous moderate aerobic exercise”3.

There is a positive cycle. Exercise increases nitric oxide availability resulting in blood flow increases. This leads to an increase in the capacity for more exercise further facilitating even more nitric oxide availability.

When you push your body to do more than it is used to handling, as self-protection, your body makes a long list of positive cardiovascular adaptations; improved nitric oxide availability is just one of those adaptations.  

Our goal at Austin Personal Training is to safely “dose” clients with the right amount of high intensity training to effectively make those positive changes.  People of any age or fitness level can do this and it does not require hours in the gym each week. Do a little bit more each week; you’ll improve a little each week, and over time your health and well-being will improve dramatically. Do nothing, a negative cycle begins, and you know how that ends.




The dire metabolic consequences of physical inactivity

If you become a little less active and gain five pounds a year, that is not aging graceful. After a couple decades of that you’ll have 100 extra pounds of fat that may lead to metabolic syndrome - hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, hyperglycemia, and abdominal obesity. Your joints hurt, your feet hurt, and your breathing and walking become labored. Muscles weaken, and energy producing mitochondria go into an advanced state of disrepair. All this leads to more inactivity and eventually a heart attack or stroke.

From this study, Metabolic consequences of physical inactivity:

“Metabolic adaptation to muscle inactivity also involves development of resistance to the glucoregulatory action of diabetes medication, decreased energy requirements, and increased insulin and leptin secretion. These alterations may lead to the development of the metabolic syndrome that is defined as the association of hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, hyperglycemia, and abdominal obesity. This cluster of metabolic abnormalities is a risk factor for coronary artery disease and stroke.Evidence indicates that exercise training programs may counteract all of these abnormalities both in healthy sedentary subjects and in patients affected by a variety of chronic disease states.”

One person who counteracted many of these abnormalities is Leif. Eight years ago Leif was 48 and overweight. He had already had heart surgery, one kidney removed, and he was taking five diabetes medicationshots a day. Now Leif is down to one diabetes medication shot and is 60 pound lighter. He has been exercising with us once a week for 30 minutes for the last eight years. Each week he improved a little. Eventually those little changes add up to something big.

Instead of seeing how much exercise you can fit into your life see what is the least amount that will produce the highest marginal return, the biggest bang for your limited free time. If you do that, make modest dietary changes, and do an activity you enjoy you will find that a year from now you’ll still be doing it, and your quality of life will have profoundly changed. At Austin Strength Trainers and New Orleans Strength Trainers we can help you achieve that change without endless hours in the gym.

Lowering metabolic syndrome risk factors, which type of exercise is most effective?

A study designed to test the efficacy of exercise in lowering metabolic risk factors consisted of three groups.  One group used a less-intense regimen called “moderate continuous-training” (CME). Another group did not exercise, and the third group used a high-intensity aerobic-interval training for four months.
From this article High-intensity exercise better at improving metabolic syndrome risk factors the results:

“• Short bursts of high-intensity exercise, rather than longer spells of moderate-intensity, exercise may improve the health of people with metabolic syndrome.

 • Once previously sedentary people with metabolic syndrome can comfortably exercise at a moderate intensity, they could consider more vigorous exercise, if they can do it without adverse symptoms, according to American Heart Association spokesperson.”

This study involved high-intensity aerobic-interval training. For more bang for you time one can obtain the positive heart benefits, have a positive effect on your metabolism, and also increase strength at the same time with high intensity interval strength training. High intensity interval strength training can increase metabolism four ways.

The type of strength training we do at New Orleans Fitness Trainers and atAustin Fitness Trainers is high intensity interval training (HIIT). It is a full body workout where a series of strength training exercises are performed with little rest between the exercises.  Strength training has more to offer than stronger muscles and bones; it is a heart healthy and beneficial to your metabolism as well.