Habitual physical activity and central artery stiffening in older adults: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study

J Hypertens. 2018 Sep;36(9):1889-1894. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000001782.


Introduction: Regular physical activity appears to attenuate or even reverse age-related arterial stiffening. Yet, it is not clear if the reduced stiffening associated with habitual physical activity is also observed in community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: Among 3893 older adults in a prospective cohort study, we associated physical activity with measures of central arterial stiffness (via carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity or cfPWV) and pressure pulsatility (via central pulse pressure or cPP). We also examined the association of long-term habitual physical activity, measured as persistence in physical activity levels from mid-life to late-life, with cfPWV and cPP among 1747 participants.

Results: The adjusted mean difference in cfPWV was lower, reflecting less arterial stiffness, for those with moderate (ß = -0.30 m/s) or high (ß = -0.38 m/s) physical activity compared with no physical activity. The adjusted mean difference in cPP was also lower for those with high (ß = -2.49 mmHg) physical activity, relative to no physical activity. Stronger effect estimates were observed among those with persistent physical activity from mid-life to late-life.

Conclusion: Higher physical activity in late-life, and habitual physical activity from mid-life to late-life, is associated with lower central arterial stiffness and pressure pulsatility in a large population-based sample of community-dwelling older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Arteries / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Vascular Stiffness*