Intermittent versus constant aerobic exercise: effects on arterial stiffness

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Mar;108(4):801-9. doi: 10.1007/s00421-009-1285-1.


Aerobic exercises (of sufficient duration and intensity) decreases arterial stiffness. However, the direct relationship between the type of aerobic exercise (i.e. constant versus interval) and the alteration in arterial stiffness has been poorly explored. We evaluated the hemodynamic responses of 11 healthy males (22.5 +/- 0.7 years, height 177.7 +/- 1.1 cm, body mass 70.5 +/- 2.4 kg) following acute constant (CE) and intermittent cycling exercise (IE). Exercise duration and intensity (mean heart rate) were matched during both exercises (142.9 +/- 2.4 bpm for CE and 144.2 +/- 2.4 bpm for IE). Heart rate (HR) and cardiac output (CO) were measured throughout the whole session, while blood pressure and pulse wave velocity (PWV) were measured during pre exercise and 30 min recovery. Arterial stiffness and cardiac autonomic control were assessed through PWV and heart rate variability, respectively. After IE, lower limb arterial stiffness was significantly and steadily decreased compared to pre exercise value (from 8.6 +/- 0.1 to m s(-1) to 7.6 +/- 0.3 to m s(-1) at 30 min) and was lower than after CE (8.2 +/- 0.3 m s(-1) at 30 min, which did not significantly change compared to pre exercise: 8.7 +/- 0.2 m s(-1)). We hypothesized that the higher HR and lower arterial stiffness after IE were likely due to variations in peripheral vascular changes during the exercise which may trigger the release of endothelial or metabolic vasoactive factors. These data appear to show that IE may result in a greater stimulus for vascular adaptations when compared to CE.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arteries / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Capillary Resistance / physiology*
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Recovery of Function
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult