Newswise — Rockville, Md. (June 2, 2020)—A new study finds that regular exercise can offset the blood vessel impairment that occurs after drinking sugary soft drinks. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

Diets high in sugar have been linked to heart disease and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have found that drinking a single sugar-sweetened soft drink can interfere with blood vessel dilation, leading to endothelial dysfunction. The endothelium is a lining of cells that covers the inner walls of the blood vessels. Research has also shown that aerobic exercise performed the day before drinking a sugary drink can prevent a decline in endothelial function. However, whether exercise can exert longer-lasting benefits with the consumption of larger amounts of sugar is less clear.

In a new study, healthy young men with an average age of 22 drank three sugar-sweetened beverages daily for seven days. Each beverage contained roughly the amount of sugar consumed when drinking a 20- to 25-ounce soda. Half of the participants also participated in 45-minute moderate-intensity cycling sessions five days a week. Before and after the trial period, the research team measured the participants’ blood sugar levels, blood pressure and endothelial function in the upper arm.

Blood sugar levels and blood pressure did not change in either the exercise or non-exercise groups. Blood vessel dilation was reduced—signifying endothelial dysfunction—in the non-exercisers after the week-long trial, but it was increased in the men who exercised. “Engaging in regular, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise offsets the decline in endothelial function following repetitive [sugar-sweetened beverage] consumption,” the researchers wrote. “Our data highlight the importance of exercise in preventing endothelial dysfunction induced by high-sugar diets common in Western culture.”

Read the full article, “Aerobic exercise offsets endothelial dysfunction induced by repetitive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in young healthy men,” published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.                                                                                                       

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in our News Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents 9,000 members and publishes 16 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

Journal Link: American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology