JACC in a Flash: For LV Compliance, Casual Exercise Not Cutting It

Lower doses of exercise within a sedentary lifestyle do not prevent decreased compliance and distensibility—hallmarks of sedentary aging’s deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system—according to a new JACC study.

Hypothesizing that a “lower, less frequent ‘dose’ of exercise training [...] might still confer similar benefits in regards to left ventricular (LV) compliance and distensibility,” the researchers assessed LV compliance and distensibility in 102 healthy seniors (> 64 years) who were stratified into four groups based upon lifelong patterns of exercise training.

The participants were pre-recruited primarily from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, which included more than 80,000 patients whose physical activity and cardiovascular risk factors had been followed for more than 4 decades. Participants were classified as either:

  • “sedentary” (n = 27) if they exercised once per week or less
  • “casual” (n = 25) if exercising 2 to 3 times per week
  • “committed” (n = 25) if 4 to 5 times per week
  • “competitive” master athletes (n = 25) if training 6 to 7 times per week

LV compliance and distensibility was determined by assessment and analysis of LV pressure-volume relationships.

Escalating doses of lifelong exercise increased peak oxygen uptake and LV mass, the researchers reported. “Committed” exercisers demonstrated improved ventricular compliance and distensibility over “casual” exercisers. Ventricle stiffness was higher in the “sedentary’ (0.062 ± 0.039) and “casual” (0.079 ± 0.052) participants versus “committed” (0.055 ± 0.033) and “competitive” (0.035 ± 0.033) participants.

“This study’s key finding is the novel observation that at least 30 minutes of dynamic exercise per session for 4 to 5 days per week over a lifetime can sufficiently prevent most of the decreases in LV compliance and distensibility observed with sedentary aging,” Bhella et al. wrote in the study’s conclusion, adding that the results had “important implications for global health.”

Bhella P, Hastings J, Fujimoto N, et al. J Am Coll Cadiol. 2014;64:1257-66.

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