Does alcohol and a sedentary lifestyle affect cardiac function and aerobic fitness?
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Aim: Alcohol is widely consumed across the world, and university students are at an age group who contribute to the highest binge drinking rates. It is commonly known that excessive alcohol consumption negatively influences cardiac function, and also some evidence that moderate consumption can be beneficial to health. This study aims to explore the effect alcohol consumption has on aerobic performance and cardiac function at rest and during exercise, in trained and untrained university students. Methods: Twenty healthy young students (height: 172 ± 6.67cm, body mass: 75.8 ± 9.4kg, age 20 ± 2 years) from Cardiff Metropolitan University volunteered to take part in the study. Ten of the individuals had two years of frequent football experience and regular training. The other ten individuals were sedentary and didn’t take part in any more than two hours of physical activity a week. Participants visited the laboratory twice, firstly to collect maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and secondly to analyse the function of the left ventricle at rest and during exercise on a supine tilt bed (echocardiography). Furthermore, alcohol consumption was measured through an AUDIT questionnaire. Results: Results illustrated that stroke volume and cardiac output increase during exercise in both populations; but significantly more in aerobically trained athletes (SV, p = 0.005, CO, p = 0.009). However, there was no significant differences between the two populations at rest. Furthermore, no significant relationships were found between SV, CO and AUDIT score suggesting that alcohol has no influence on cardiac function among young university students (P = > 0.05). Conclusion: This present study suggests that alcohol has no influence on cardiac function, although further research could support exercise reducing the damaging effects of alcohol consumption. Furthermore, it has been proved regular aerobic training improves SV and CO during exercise in comparison to sedentary individuals but not at rest.
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