Habitual aerobic exercise and smoking-associated arterial stiffening



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The largest percentage of mortality from tobacco smoking is cardiovascular-related. It is not known whether regular participation in exercise mitigates the adverse influence of smoking on vasculature. The purpose of this study is to determine if regular aerobic exercise is associated with reduced arterial stiffness in young men who are cigarette smokers. Using a cross-sectional observational study design, the sample included 78 young men (22±5 years) with the following classification: sedentary smokers (n=12); physically active smokers (n=25); sedentary non-smokers (n=20); and physically active non-smokers (n=21). Arterial stiffness was assessed by brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV). There were no group differences in height, body fatness, systolic and diastolic blood pressure. As expected, both physically active groups demonstrated greater VO2max and lower heart rate at rest than their sedentary peers. The sedentary smokers demonstrated greater baPWV than the sedentary non-smokers (1,183±33.5 vs. 1,055±25 cm/sec). baPWV was not different between the physically-active smokers and the physically-active non-smokers (1,084±26 vs. 1,070±28.6 cm/sec). Chronic smoking is associated with arterial stiffening in sedentary men but a significant smoking-induced increase in arterial stiffness was not observed in physically active adults. These results are consistent with the idea that regular participation in physical activity may mitigate the adverse effect of smoking on the vasculature.