Objectives - Whereas evidence exists about the benefits of intensive exercise on cardiovascular outcomes in older adults, data are lacking regarding long-term effects of physical fitness and physical activity on cardiovascular health. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the longitudinal association of physical fitness, physical activity and muscle strength with arterial stiffness measures.
Design - a longitudinal follow-up study (2 years) of data from the B-PROOF study.
Setting - a subgroup of the B-PROOF study (n=497).
Participants - Four hundred ninety-seven participants with a mean age of 72.1 years (SD 5.4) of which 57% was male.
Measurements - All performed at baseline and after two-year follow-up. Arterial stiffness was estimated by pulse wave velocity (PWV) measured with applanation tonometry. Furthermore, augmentation index (AIx) and aortic pulse pressure (PP) were assessed. Physical activity was estimated using a validated questionnaire regarding daily activities. Physical fitness was measured with a physical performance score, resulting from a walking, chair-stand and balance test. Muscle strength was assessed with hand-grip strength using a handheld dynamometer. - Results - The median performance score was 9.0 [IQR 8.0–11.0], the mean physical activity was 744.4 (SD 539.4) kcal/day and the mean hand-grip strength was 33.1 (SD 10.2) kg. AIx differed between the baseline and follow-up measurement (26.2% (SD 10.1) vs. 28.1% (SD 9.9); p <0.01), whereas PWV and aortic PP did not. In multivariable linear regression analysis, physical performance, physical activity and hand-grip strength at baseline were not associated with the amount of arterial stiffness after two years of follow-up.
Conclusion - Physical fitness, activity and muscle strength were not associated with arterial stiffness. More research is warranted to elucidate the long-term effects of daily and intensive physical activity on arterial stiffness in an elderly population