Effects of exercise intensity and cardiorespiratory fitness on the acute response of arterial stiffness to exercise in older adults

Maria Perissiou, Tom G. Bailey, Mark Windsor, Michael Chi Yuan Nam, Kim Greaves, Anthony S. Leicht, Jonathan Golledge, Christopher D. Askew

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Purpose: Increased arterial stiffness is observed with ageing and in individuals with low cardiorespiratory fitness ( VO2peak), and associated with cardiovascular risk. Following an exercise bout, transient arterial stiffness reductions offer short-term benefit, but may depend on exercise intensity. This study assessed the effects of exercise intensity on post-exercise arterial stiffness in older adults with varying fitness levels.

Methods: Fifty-one older adults (72 ± 5 years) were stratified into fitness tertiles ( VO2peak: low-, 22.3 ± 3.1; mid-, 27.5 ± 2.4 and high-fit 36.3 ± 6.5 mL kg−1 min−1). In a randomised order, participants underwent control (no-exercise), moderate-intensity continuous exercise (40% of peak power output; PPO), and higher-intensity interval exercise (70% of PPO) protocols. Pulse wave velocity (PWV), augmentation index (AIx75) and reflection magnitude (RM) were assessed at rest and during 90 min of recovery following each protocol.

Results: After control, delta PWV increased over time (P < 0.001) and delta RM was unchanged. After higher-intensity interval exercise, delta PWV (P < 0.001) and delta RM (P < 0.001) were lower to control in all fitness groups. After moderate-intensity continuous exercise, delta PWV was not different from control in low-fit adults (P = 0.057), but was lower in the mid- and higher-fit older adults. Post-exercise AIx75 was higher to control in all fitness groups (P = 0.001).

Conclusions: In older adults, PWV increases during seated rest and this response is attenuated after higher-intensity interval exercise, regardless of fitness level. This attenuation was also observed after moderate-intensity continuous exercise in adults with higher, but not lower fitness levels. Submaximal exercise reveals differences in the arterial stiffness responses between older adults with higher and lower cardiorespiratory fitness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1673-1688
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number8
Early online date30 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • pulse wave velocity
  • wave reflection characteristics
  • exercise instensity
  • ageing


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