Physical Activity and Blood Pressure in Childhood

The pathological processes associated with development of cardiovascular disease begin early in life. For example, elevated blood pressure (BP) can be seen in childhood and tracks into adulthood. The relationship between physical activity (PA) and BP in adults is well-established, but findings in children have been inconsistent, with few studies measuring PA mechanically.

Children aged 11 to 12 years were recruited from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. 5505 had systolic and diastolic BP measurements, plus valid (at least 10 hours for at least 3 days) accelerometer measures of PA; total PA recorded as average counts per minute (cpm) over the period of valid recording, and minutes per day spent in moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA).

Data on a number of possible confounders were also available. Small inverse associations were observed; for systolic BP, β=–0.44 (95% confidence interval –0.59, –0.28) mm Hg per 100 cpm, and β=–0.66 (95% CI –0.92, –0.39) mm Hg per 15 minutes/d MVPA, adjusting for child’s age and gender. After adjustment for potential confounders, associations were weakened but remained. When PA variables were modeled together, associations with total PA were only a little weaker, whereas those with MVPA were substantially reduced; for systolic BP, β=–0.42 (95% CI –0.71, –0.13) mm Hg per 100 cpm, and β=–0.03 (95% CI –0.54, 0.48) mm Hg per 15 minutes/d MVPA. In conclusion, higher levels of PA were associated with lower BP, and results suggested that the volume of activity may be more important than the intensity.

Key Words: blood pressure • physical activity • children • epidemiology • ALSPAC

Sam D. Leary; Andy R. Ness; George Davey Smith; Calum Mattocks; Kevin Deere; Steven N. Blair; Chris Riddoch

From the Departments of Oral and Dental Science (S.D.L., A.R.N.) and Social Medicine (G.D.S., C.M., K.D.), University of Bristol, UK; the Arnold School of Public Health (S.N.B.), University of South Carolina; and Sport and Exercise Science, School for Health (C.R.), University of Bath, UK.

Correspondence to Dr S. Leary, Department of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TQ UK. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

(Hypertension. 2008;51:92.)
2008 American Heart Association, Inc.

Published online before print December 10, 2007, doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.107.099051

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