Arterial distensibility, particularly central arterial distensibility, decreases with age-related changes in the arterial wall and, as a result, systolic blood pressure and/or pulse pressure (difference of systolic pressure and diastolic pressure) may increase in the elderly. Systolic hypertension, increased pulse pressure, and decreased central arterial distensibility are known to be independent risk factors for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Decreased arterial distensibility may also cause the deterioration of physical ability in the elderly. Several previous studies, as well as the current investigation, have shown that daily physical activity is positively related to arterial distensibility in not only young but also elderly people and that relatively short-term and low-intensity aerobic exercise training could improve arterial distensibility even in the elderly. It has been shown, however, that the effect cannot be maintained without continued physical exercise. Some presumable biological mechanisms and the appropriate amount and/or intensity of physical activity and aerobic exercise for improving arterial distensibility have also been revealed. Thus, habitual physical activity and exercise may have the effect of retarding age-related changes to the arteries and establishing higher quality of life by preventing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and by improving physical ability in the elderly.
2006 Japan Society of Physical Education, Health and Sport Sciences