Research Study Abstract

Accelerometer-determined physical activity and the cardiovascular response to mental stress in children

  • Published on Jun 1st, 2016

Objectives: Cardiovascular reactivity has been associated with future hypertension and cardiovascular mortality. Higher physical activity (PA) has been associated with lower cardiovascular reactivity in adults, but little data is available in children. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between PA and cardiovascular reactivity to mental stress in children.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: This study sample included children from the Oswego Lead Study (n = 79, 46% female, 9–11 years old). Impedance cardiography was performed while children participated in a stress response protocol. Children were also asked to wear ActiGraph accelerometers on their wrists for 3 days to measure intensity and duration of PA and sedentary time.

Results: In multivariable models, moderate to vigorous (MV) PA was associated with lower body mass index (BMI) percentile and lower total peripheral resistance (TPR) response to stress (beta = −0.025, p = 0.02; beta = −0.009, p = 0.05). After additional adjustment for BMI, MVPA was also associated with lower diastolic blood pressure response to stress (beta = −0.01, p = 0.03). Total PA and sedentary time were not associated with BMI or cardiovascular responses to stress.

Conclusions: A modest, inverse relation of PA to vascular reactivity to mental stress was observed in children. These data provide confirmatory evidence that the promotion of PA recommendations for children are important for cardiovascular health.


  • Nicole L. Spartano 1, 2
  • Kevin S. Heffernan 3
  • Amy K. Dumas 4
  • Brooks B. Gump 4


  • 1

    The Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States

  • 2

    Section of Preventative Medicine and Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States

  • 3

    Department of Exercise Science, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, United States

  • 4

    Department of Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, United States


Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport


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