, Volume 113, Issue 5, pp 1213-1222
Date: 16 Nov 2012

Physical activity intensity and surrogate markers for cardiovascular health in adolescents

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We examined the impact of physical activity (PA) on surrogate markers of cardiovascular health in adolescents. 52 healthy students (28 females, mean age 14.5 ± 0.7 years) were investigated. Microvascular endothelial function was assessed by peripheral arterial tonometry to determine reactive hyperemic index (RHI). Vagal activity was measured using 24 h analysis of heart rate variability [root mean square of successive normal-to-normal intervals (rMSSD)]. Exercise testing was performed to determine peak oxygen uptake ( \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{ peak}}}} \) ) and maximum power output. PA was assessed by accelerometry. Linear regression models were performed and adjusted for age, sex, skinfolds, and pubertal status. The cohort was dichotomized into two equally sized activity groups (low vs. high) based on the daily time spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA, 3,000–5,200 counts.min−1, model 1) and vigorous PA (VPA, >5,200 counts.min−1, model 2). MVPA was an independent predictor for rMSSD (β = 0.448, P = 0.010), and VPA was associated with maximum power output (β = 0.248, P = 0.016). In model 1, the high MVPA group exhibited a higher vagal tone (rMSSD 49.2 ± 13.6 vs. 38.1 ± 11.7 ms, P = 0.006) and a lower systolic blood pressure (107.3 ± 9.9 vs. 112.9 ± 8.1 mmHg, P = 0.046). In model 2, the high VPA group had higher maximum power output values (3.9 ± 0.5 vs. 3.4 ± 0.5 W kg−1, P = 0.012). In both models, no significant differences were observed for RHI and \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{ 2 {\text{ peak}}}} \) . In conclusion, in healthy adolescents, PA was associated with beneficial intensity-dependent effects on vagal tone, systolic blood pressure, and exercise capacity, but not on microvascular endothelial function.

Communicated by Keith Phillip George.