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Circulation. 2000 Sep 12;102(11):1270-5.

Aging, habitual exercise, and dynamic arterial compliance.

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Human Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 80309-0354, USA.



A reduction in compliance of the large-sized cardiothoracic (central) arteries is an independent risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease with advancing age.


We determined the role of habitual exercise on the age-related decrease in central arterial compliance by using both cross-sectional and interventional approaches. First, we studied 151 healthy men aged 18 to 77 years: 54 were sedentary, 45 were recreationally active, and 53 were endurance exercise-trained. Central arterial compliance (simultaneous B-mode ultrasound and arterial applanation tonometry on the common carotid artery) was lower (P:<0.05) in middle-aged and older men than in young men in all 3 groups. There were no significant differences between sedentary and recreationally active men at any age. However, arterial compliance in the endurance-trained middle-aged and older men was 20% to 35% higher than in the 2 less active groups (P:<0.01). As such, age-related differences in central arterial compliance were smaller in the endurance-trained men than in the sedentary and recreationally active men. Second, we studied 20 middle-aged and older (53+/-2 years) sedentary healthy men before and after a 3-month aerobic exercise intervention (primarily walking). Regular exercise increased central arterial compliance (P:<0.01) to levels similar to those of the middle-aged and older endurance-trained men. These effects were independent of changes in body mass, adiposity, arterial blood pressure, or maximal oxygen consumption.


Regular aerobic-endurance exercise attenuates age-related reductions in central arterial compliance and restores levels in previously sedentary healthy middle-aged and older men. This may be one mechanism by which habitual exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease in this population.

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