Higher levels of daily physical activity are associated with better skin microvascular function in type 2 diabetes—The Maastricht Study

Ben M. Sörensen, Frank C.T. van der Heide, Alfons J.H.M. Houben, Annemarie Koster, Tos T.J.M. Berendschot, Jan S.A.G. Schouten, Abraham A. Kroon, Carla J.H. van der Kallen, Ronald M.A. Henry, Martien C.J.M. van Dongen, Simone J.P.M. Eussen, Hans H.C.M. Savelberg, Julianne D. van der Berg, Nicolaas C. Schaper, Miranda T. Schram, Coen D.A. Stehouwer (Corresponding author)

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Objective: Physical activity may provide a means for the prevention of cardiovascular disease via improving microvascular function. Therefore, this study investigated whether physical activity is associated with skin and retinal microvascular function. Methods: In The Maastricht Study, a population-based cohort study enriched with type 2 diabetes (n = 1298, 47.3% women, aged 60.2 ± 8.1 years, 29.5% type 2 diabetes), we studied whether accelerometer-assessed physical activity and sedentary time associate with skin and retinal microvascular function. Associations were studied by linear regression and adjusted for major cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, we investigated whether associations were stronger in type 2 diabetes. Results: In individuals with type 2 diabetes, total physical activity and higher-intensity physical activity were independently associated with greater heat-induced skin hyperemia (regression coefficients per hour), respectively, 10 (95% CI: 1; 18) and 36 perfusion units (14; 58). In individuals without type 2 diabetes, total physical activity and higher-intensity physical activity were not associated with heat-induced skin hyperemia. No associations with retinal arteriolar %-dilation were identified. Conclusion: Higher levels of total and higher-intensity physical activity were associated with greater skin microvascular vasodilation in individuals with, but not in those without, type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12611
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • cohort studies
  • diabetes mellitus
  • type 2
  • exercise
  • microcirculation
  • sedentary behavior

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