We examined the relative contributions of habitual physical activity and aerobic fitness to the prevention of arteriosclerosis.
Elderly individuals (97 men and 109 women, aged > 65 y) each wore a uniaxial activity monitor continuously for 1 year, with activity data summarized as an average daily step count and duration of activity > 3 metabolic equivalents (METs). Aerobic fitness was assessed by a standardized 5-m walking test measure of maximal walking speed. Central arterial stiffness was determined using an automatic waveform analyzer measure of cardio-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV).
The cfPWV was negatively associated with daily step count, duration of activity > 3 METs, and maximal walking speed (P < .05). Multiple stepwise regression analysis revealed that the step count, duration of activity > 3 METs, and maximal walking speed were all significant predictors of cfPWV, accounting for 11%, 7%, and 4% of total variance, respectively.
In contrast to findings from studies using potentially fallible questionnaires, our data suggest that a measure of health (arterial stiffness) is more closely related to objective measures of physical activity than to an estimate of aerobic fitness.