Age- and lifestyle-related arterial stiffening is a well-established independent cardiovascular risk factor. Previous studies have investigated the effects of exercise training on arterial stiffness. Aerobic exercise training reduces arterial stiffness. On the other hand, muscle-strengthening exercise, such as weight training, may stiffen central elastic arteries. However, the mechanism underlying exercise training-associated changes in arterial stiffness has not been fully elucidated. Adaptations of arteries to exercise training may, at least partly, be regulated by local factors. We have focused on endothelium-derived vasoactive factors, such as nitric oxide (NO) and endothelin (ET)-1, because the endothelium regulates vascular tone. NO has a significant vasodilatory effect, and ET-1 is a potent vasoconstrictor. Both factors have been reported to be affected by exercise training. This article reviews literature investigating the effects of exercise training on arterial stiffness and the role of endothelium-derived factors. We discuss here the role of endothelial function in exercise training-induced changes in arterial stiffness.
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