Associations of physical activity and physical fitness with cardiovascular risk factors in young men

Since the 1950s, an accumulative body of research has shown the health benefits of physical activity for many health outcomes. In particular, cardiorespiratory fitness is closely linked to health indices and mortality. However, muscular fitness, an important dimension of physical fitness, has been less studied regarding health outcomes. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate how muscular endurance and maximal strength are associated with cardiovascular and inflammatory risk factors independent of cardiorespiratory fitness. In addition, the associations between different physical activity dimensions and cardiovascular risk factors and physical fitness variables were studied. The present study showed an inverse association between muscular endurance and both single and clustered cardiovascular risk factors, as well as with inflammatory biomarkers independent of cardiorespiratory fitness. Although maximal strength was not associated with any of the single or clustered cardiovascular risk factors, it was inversely associated with some of the inflammatory biomarkers. In addition, commuting physical activity was inversely associated with clustered cardiovascular risk factor, however, leisure-time and occupational physical activities showed no significant associations. Leisure-time physical activity was positively associated with many of the fitness variables, whereas commuting physical activity was associated with cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular endurance, and occupational physical activity only with grip strength. The findings from the present cross-sectional study design may indicate that muscular endurance is associated with health benefits of cardiovascular risk factors and inflammatory biomarkers, whereas maximal strength may be associated with some of the inflammatory biomarkers independent of cardiorespiratory fitness. Therefore, it is conluded that aerobic type physical activity, such as active travel to work, may elicit cardioprotective health benefits. In addition, different modalities of physical fitness, especially cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular endurance, may induce cardioprotective and anti-inflammatory effects and thereby decrease the risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases.


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