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

Nicole L. Spartano, Kevin S. Heffernan, Amy K. Dumas, Brooks B. Gump

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Pediatrics
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Vascular resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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