Assessment of Central Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Practicing Long-Distance Walking Race

Abstract Background: An ecological hiking occurs yearly in Brazil. It is a unique event because of its distance (310 km) and dynamics (mean of 62 km/day for 5 days with mean pace of 7.6 km/h). Although beneficial effects of moderate-intensity exercises are well-known, the effects of intense and long-duration exercise still require study. Objective: To evaluate the effects of mixed walking/running race on various blood pressure (BP) parameters 30 days before (A0), on the 2nd (A2), 3rd (A3), and 4th (A4) days after completing the day's stage. Methods: Central systolic (cSBP) and diastolic BP (cDBP), peripheral systolic (pSBP) and diastolic BP (pDBP), central pulse pressure (cPP), peripheral pulse pressure (pPP), amplified pulse pressure (aPP), corrected augmentation index (AIx75%) and pulse wave velocity (PWV) were measured using an oscillometric Mobil-O-Graph® (IEM, Stolberg, Germany) in 25 male athletes (mean age of 45.3 ± 9.1 years). A p value < 0.05 was considered a statistically-significant difference. Results: cSBP decreased from A0 to A2 (109.5 to 118.1 mmHg) and from A0 to A3 (109.5 to 102.5 mmHg); pPP decrease from A0 to A2 (49.2 to 38.2 mmHg) and from A0 to A4 (49.2 to 41.2 mmHg); aPP decrease from A0 to A1 (15.6 to 9.5 mmHg), from A0 to A2 (15.6 to 8.0 mmHg) and from A0 to A3 (15.6 to 11.2 mmHg). PWV correlated with age. Conclusions: Blood pressure dropped on the first days of the race and returned to close to baseline values at the end. PWV correlates strongly with age. This type of exercise promotes effects on BP and PWV similar to those seen in long-duration, high-intensity sports. These changes in trained healthy individuals do not seem to increase cardiovascular risks. This was the first study to assess the effects of this type of exercise on the cardiovascular system.