Toxic Effects of Sedentariness on CV Risk Factors Blunted by Cardiorespiratory Fitness: Cohort Study

Pam Harrison

October 28, 2016

TRONDHEIM, NORWAY — Cardiorespiratory fitness blunts the toxic effects that being sedentary has on the risk of cardiovascular risk-factor clustering in older men and women, and this holds true even for those who don't meet daily exercise requirements, a cross-sectional study of older adults suggests[1].

In the cohort reported by Dr Silvana Sandbakk (Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine, Trondheim, Norway) and colleagues, the top 40% of women for VO2peak, defined as having the highest level of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), had a VO2peak of 27 mL/kg/minute or greater; the top 40% of men had a VO2peak of at least 34.4 mL/kg/min.

Every 3.5-mL/kg/minute-lower CRF (that is, every 1-metabolic equivalent) was associated with a 57% greater risk that women would have a clustering of at least three out of five CV risk factors, while men would have a 67% greater risk of meeting the same definition for CV risk-factor clustering.

As the group notes, the five risk factors were increased waist circumference (>80 cm in women and >94 cm in men); increased triglycerides (>1.7 mmol/L) or dyslipidemia drug therapy; reduced HDL cholesterol (<1.3 mmol/L in women and <1.0 mmol/L in men) or dyslipidemia drug therapy; elevated blood pressure (>130 mm Hg systolic and/or >85 mm Hg diastolic) or antihypertensive drug therapy; and elevated fasting glucose (>100 mg/dL).

The association between CRF and CV risk-factor clustering was also independent of whether participants met recommendations for daily amount of physical activity, according to the authors.

"Our study results reveal that high age-specific CRF attenuates the adverse effect of prolonged sedentary time on cardiovascular risk-factor clustering among older adults, independent of physical activity that meets the consensus recommendations," Sandbakk and colleagues write.

"And our findings contribute to the mounting evidence of the benefits of high CRF for cardiovascular health and encourage implementation of strategies specifically aimed to improve CRF in older adults in future public-health programs."

The study was published online October 18, 2016 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

A total of 874 adults between the ages of 70 to 77 years were assessed for CRF, the amount of time spent being sedentary, and the level of physical activity achieved each day.

VO2peak measurements were determined by treadmill walking or running while sedentary time and physical activity were assessed by accelerometer.

Overall, men and women spent over three-quarters of their waking time in sedentary behavior and 19.5 minutes a day in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Approximately one-third of the women and almost 37% of the men met the criteria for CV risk-factor clustering.

For women, each additional hour of sedentary time was associated with a 22% increased risk of CV risk-factor clustering. For men, the same additional hour of sedentary time was associated with a 27% increased risk of CV risk-factor clustering.

For every 1-metabolic-equivalent decrease in VO2peak, women had a 57% increased likelihood of CV risk-factor clustering and men showed a corresponding 67% increase.

Women with low levels of CRF, compared with those with the highest CRF levels, had an odds ratio for CV risk-factor clustering of 3.6; it was 7.7 for men. In both cases, the odds were adjusted for age, smoking status, and alcohol consumption.

The group concluded that high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness attenuates the adverse effects of sedentary behavior in men and women.

The authors had no relevant financial relationships.

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