Aortic Stiffness Increases During Prolonged Sitting Independent of Intermittent Standing Or Prior Exercise

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Kinesiology and Nutrition


Introduction: Adverse vascular responses can occur during prolonged sitting, including stiffening of the aortic artery which may contribute to cardiovascular disease. Few studies have investigated the impact of intermittent standing and/or prior exercise as strategies to attenuate these potentially deleterious vascular changes.

Purpose: To investigate central vascular health responses during prolonged sitting, with and without intermittent standing and/or prior exercise.

Methods: Fifteen males aged 18 to 31 years were recruited. Subjects completed a control condition [Sitting Only (SO)], and three randomized strategy conditions [Sitting Plus Standing (SSt), Exercise Plus Sitting (ES), Exercise Plus Sitting Plus Standing (ESSt)]. For all conditions, measurements of carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) were taken at pre- and post-intervention, and brachial and central blood pressure (BP) at pre-, 1-h, 2-h, and 3-h intervention.

Results: cfPWV significantly increased from pre- to post-intervention for all conditions (all p ≤ 0.043), as did brachial mean arterial pressure (MAP) and diastolic BP, and central MAP and diastolic BP for the control condition (all p ≤ 0.022). Brachial and central systolic BP were significantly higher during SO compared to ESSt at 1 h, and compared to ES for central systolic BP (all p ≤ 0.036).

Conclusions: Strategies of intermittent standing and/or prior exercise may not prevent aortic stiffening during sitting but may attenuate BP elevations in the brachial and aortic arteries. Future research should investigate causal mechanistic links between sitting and aortic stiffening, and other attenuation strategies.

Publication Title

European Journal of Applied Physiology

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