The role of exercise in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been well documented. To determine whether this benefit could be related to effects on vascular endothelial function and vessel wall elasticity, thereby preserving arterial compliance, we examined the relationship between habitual exercise and arterial compliance as measured by pulse wave analysis.Design
A cross-sectional study of healthy volunteers and patients with type 1 diabetes.Methods
Non-diabetic individuals not taking cholesterol or blood pressure-lowering medication (n=176) and patients with type 1 diabetes (n=105), aged 17–70 years, were recruited. Small and large artery compliance and other haemodynamic variables were measured using the PulseWave CR-2000 cardiovascular profiling system. A questionnaire was completed to assess the frequency of physical activity.Results
In multivariate analysis, undertaking three or more episodes of vigorous activity per week was associated with having a 1 unit greater small artery compliance, independent of age, sex, height, diabetes status and blood pressure. The effect was especially marked in non-diabetic women.Conclusions
The results support other findings that regular physical activity protects against CVD, through the preservation of vascular compliance.