Physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness and carotid intima thickness: Sedentary occupation as risk factor for atherosclerosis and obesity

R. Leischik, P. Foshag, M. Strauss, P. Garg, B. Dworrak, H. Littwitz, J. S. Lazic, M. Horlitz

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32 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: The influence of occupational physical activity on markers of atherosclerosis, prevalence of metabolic syndrome and physical performance has been understudied in current literature. Main aim of this study was to examine the association between physical work environment and physiological performance measures, physical activity, metabolic parameters and carotid atherosclerosis among German career firefighters and sedentary clerks. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We prospectively examined and recruited 143 male German civil servants (97 firefighters [FFs], and 46 sedentary clerks [SCs]). Correlation for each parameter for the groups were compared using a linear regression model adjusted for age. RESULTS: 97 firefighters (FFs) showed higher maximal aerobic power (VO2max ) of 3.17 ± 0.44 L/min compared to 46 sedentary clerks (SCs) 2.85 ± 0.52 L/min (-0.21 CI -0.39-0.04, p = 0.018). Physical activity (PA, in METS/week) in FFs was 3953 ± 2688 and in SC 2212 ± 2293 (-1791.86 CI -2650-934, p = 0.000). Body fat was 17.7 ± 6.2% in FFs and in SCs 20.8 ± 6.5% (1.98 CI -0.28-4.25, p = 0.086). Waist circumference was 89.8 ±10.0 cm in FFs and in SCs 97.3 ± 11.7 (-4.89 CI 1.24-8.55, p = 0.009). Carotid intima media thickness (IMT) showed significant difference for the left carotid artery 0.69 ± 0.19 mm in FFs vs. SCs 0.81 ± 0.20 (0.07 CI 0.01-0.14, p = 0.030). Metabolic syndrome was found in 12 out of 98 FFs (13.4%), and in 14 out of 46 SCs (30.43%). CONCLUSIONS: FFs showed significantly higher physical activity levels compared with the SCs. SCs had higher cardiovascular risk profile, higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome, higher waist circumference and significantly higher IMT than FFs. In conclusion, sedentary occupations have higher cardiovascular risk secondary to accelerated atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3157-3168
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Carotid atherosclerosis
  • Firefighters
  • Occupational health.
  • Sedentary clerks

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