Adiposity and physical activity are related to heart rate variability: the African-PREDICT study
Schutte, Aletta E.
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Background Physical inactivity contributes significantly to the development of obesity‐related cardiovascular disease. Adiposity may lead to reduced heart rate variability (HRV), whereas increased physical activity (PA) has the potential to improve autonomic activity. These associations remain largely unexplored in healthy individuals. We therefore investigated whether adiposity and physical activity (PA) are associated with reduced heart rate variability (HRV) in young adults. Materials and methods We examined 403 black and 461 white healthy adults (aged 20‐30 years) for HRV, including standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN) and root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD). We measured adiposity, PA levels and blood pressure (BP). Body mass index (BMI) of ≥ 30 kg/m2 indicated obesity. Results Participants with obesity had lower mean HRV than normal weight (SDNN [95% CI]; 138 [131‐145]s vs 161 [158‐165]ms), where those with the highest PA had higher SDNN (164 [160‐169]ms) and RMSSD (51 [49‐53]ms) than the least active individuals (150 [146‐155]s) and 46 [44‐48]ms)(all P < .01). BMI, waist circumference and body fat associated with lower SDNN (P < .001). With each unit increase of vigorous PA, a favourable higher RMSSD was found (P < .05). One unit increase in diastolic BP was associated with decreased SDNN and RMSSD (P < .001). These findings remained significant in multivariable‐adjusted analyses. Conclusions Adiposity and low PA associated independently with depressed autonomic activity in young healthy adults. Sympathovagal imbalance seems to already contribute to elevated diastolic BP at young ages. Our study supports population‐based prevention programmes in young adults, improving PA and healthy diet, to curb the development of cardiovascular disease
- Faculty of Health Sciences