Objective. Physical activity (PA) has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, improvements in conventional risk factors do not explain the full benefit of PA on CVD risk. Therefore, we examined the association between PA and central haemodynamics to provide new insight into the link between PA and CVD.
Methods. We performed cross-sectional analyses of data from a health examination of 1,607 Danish adults at low to high diabetes risk. PA energy expenditure (PAEE) was measured by combined accelerometry and heart rate monitoring (ActiHeart®) expressed as kJ/kg/day. Aortic stiffness was assessed by applanation tonometry (SphygmoCor®), as aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV), and central blood pressure was estimated from wave forms recorded at the radial artery. Associations between PAEE and central haemodynamics were examined by linear regression successively adjusted for sex, age, waist circumference, and smoking. Additionally, aPWV was adjusted for mean blood pressure. aPWV was logarithmically transformed. Individuals with previously myocardial or cerebral infarction were excluded (n = 183).
Results. Median age was 66 years (IQR: 61;71), 52% was men, median PAEE was 28 kJ/kg/day (IQR: 20;39), and median aPWV 8.0 m/s (IQR: 6.9;9.4). A higher PAEE of 10 kJ/kg/day was associated with a 1.0 % lower aPWV (CI: −0.17; −0.03). Associations with systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure were not statistically significant (−0.5 mmHg (CI: −0.11;0.01) and −0.02 mmHg (CI: −0.06;0.03)).
Conclusion. A higher level of PAEE is associated with lower levels of aortic stiffness indicating that the beneficial effects of PA on CVD are partially mediated by aortic stiffness.