The association between physical activity and arterial stiffness in youth

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Walker, Darolyn
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Physical activity is a powerful modifiable lifestyle factor that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adults through favorable changes in conventional risk factors including serum lipids, blood pressure and glycemia. Recent evidence suggests that the cardioprotective effects of physical activity may also be mediated through beneficial effects on vascular function, in particular arterial stiffness. While the beneficial effects of physical activity in CVD risk in adults are irrefutable, data in youth are limited, especially for arterial stiffness. Purpose: The purpose of this project is to explore the continuous association between physical activity and arterial stiffness in youth. Hypothesis: We hypothesized that physical activity is negatively associated with arterial stiffness, whereby highly active youth would display lesser degrees of arterial stiffness than their less active (sedentary) peers. Methods: 485 youth (12-13 yrs) were recruited from the 1995 Manitoba birth cohort involved in the GreatICE asthma and allergy study. Youth were stratified into tertiles (high, medium, low) of self-reported physical activity. Global cardiometabolic risk was determined from a composite score of conventional risk factors including, LDL, SBP, Insulin, Glucose and Triglycerides. Arterial stiffness was assessed non-invasively using conventional pulse wave analysis and velocity. Results: Of the 485 youth who participated in this wave of the study, measures of PWV and PWA were available on 357 and 335 youth respectively. Cardiometabolic risk decreased with increasing levels of vigorous physical activity. Neither measure of arterial stiffness was associated with physical activity. Conclusion: Increased vigorous physical activity is associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk in youth independent of arterial stiffness.
Physical activity, arterial stiffness