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Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2010 Sep;30(5):354-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-097X.2010.00952.x. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

Impact of physical activity and body composition on heart function and morphology in middle-aged, abdominally obese women.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Several studies have shown training induced morphological changes in the heart. Our aim was to assess how frequent, low-intensity exercise (walking and cycling) influences heart function and morphology in abdominally obese women. Fifty women with abdominal obesity (mean age 47.0 +/- 7.5 years, waist circumference (WC) 103.2 +/- 7.8 cm), free of cardiovascular problems were recruited. They were equipped with a bicycle and pedometers and instructed to start commuting in a physically active way for 6 months. Evaluation of cardiac function and morphology was performed using echocardiography (ECHO) before and after 6 months of training. The subjects increased significantly their daily physical activity. After 6 months, there was a significant decrease in WC (from 103.3 +/- 7.9 to 100.8 +/- 8.4 cm, P = 0.0003), in systolic and diastolic blood pressure (126.8 +/- 15.2 to 120.4 +/- 14.5 mmHg, P = 0.0001, and 79.8 +/- 7.8 to 77.8 +/- 8.4 mmHg, P = 0.0006, respectively). ECHO showed an increase in the right ventricular (RV) systolic longitudinal function expressed as tricuspid annular motion from 22.00 +/- 3.30 to 23.05 +/- 3.59 mm, P = 0.015; and a similar trend in left ventricular (LV) mitral annular motion, which increased from 13.09 +/- 1.53 to 13.39 +/- 1.47 mm, P = 0.070. Cycling was associated with reductions in LV systolic and RV diastolic dimensions, whereas walking was not associated with any changes in the ECHO-variables. A reduction in WC by frequent, low-intensity exercise in abdominally obese women is associated with decrease in blood pressure and improved longitudinal RV systolic function.

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