BACKGROUND: longitudinal analyses of physical activity (PA) and arterial stiffness in populations of older adults are scarce. We examined associations between long-term change of PA and arterial stiffness in the Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution and Lung and Heart Diseases in Adults (SAPALDIA).
METHODS: we assessed PA in SAPALDIA 2 (2001-03) and SAPALDIA 3 (2010-11) using a short questionnaire with a cut-off of at least 150 min of moderate-to-vigorous PA per week for sufficient activity. Arterial stiffness was measured oscillometrically by means of the brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) in SAPALDIA 3. We used multivariable mixed linear regression models adjusted for several potential confounders in 2,605 persons aged 50-81.
RESULTS: adjusted means of baPWV were significantly lower in persons with sufficient moderate-to-vigorous PA (i) in SAPALDIA 2 but not in SAPALDIA 3 (P = 0.048) and (ii) in both surveys (P = 0.001) compared with persons with insufficient activity in both surveys. There was a significant interaction between sex and the level of change in PA concerning baPWV (P = 0.03). The triples of parameter estimates describing the association between level of PA change and baPWV were not significantly different between the two sex-specific models (P = 0.07).
CONCLUSIONS: keeping up or adopting a physically active lifestyle was associated with lower arterial stiffness in older adults after a follow-up of almost a decade. Increasing the proportion of older adults adhering to PA recommendations incorporating also vigorous PA may have a considerable impact on vascular health at older age and may contribute to healthy ageing in general.