Increased arterial stiffness is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular mortality. Acute changes to arterial stiffness in athletes following moderate intensity aerobic exercise are unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare central and peripheral arterial stiffness at rest and with moderate intensity exercise in resistance trained (RT) athletes, endurance trained (ET) athletes and sedentary controls. Fifty two participants (18 RT athletes, 19 ET athletes and 15 controls) underwent central (carotid to femoral) and peripheral (femoral to posterior tibial) pulse wave velocity (PWV) measurements before and at intervals 3, 15 and 30 min after half an hour of moderate intensity cycling (65% of maximal heart rate). PWV was measured using Doppler flow velocimeters as pulse detectors and calculated using the ‘foot to foot' velocity method. Groups did not differ in resting central or peripheral PWV. In the endurance and control group, central PWV increased at 3 min postexercise compared with resting values (from 7.7±2.2 to 10.6±4.2 m/s; P = 0.01 and from 7.4±2.2 to 9.1±3.1 m/s; P = 0.02, respectively), followed by a decline to baseline in both groups within 15 min of exercise cessation. The RT group experienced no changes in central PWV, and there were no changes to peripheral PWV postexercise in any group. The study concluded that a 30 min bout of moderate intensity exercise led to a transient increase in central PWV in the endurance and control group, most likely due to mechanisms related to vasoconstriction, but did not reduce arterial stiffness. It is likely that repeated bouts of exercise are needed or a higher intensity of exercise required before reductions in arterial stiffness occur.
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