Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Good News: As You Age, Leg Blood Vessels Adapt So You Can Still Exercise Without Fainting

Date:
October 7, 2004
Source:
American Physiological Society
Summary:
The "fight or flight" mechanism is one of the best-known physiological responses. It increases our ability to respond to stressful situations. One way to look at exercise – physiologically -- is as a non-life-threatening example of a stressful situation.

Austin, Texas (Oct. 6, 2004) – The "fight or flight" mechanism is one of the best-known physiological responses. It increases our ability to respond to stressful situations. One way to look at exercise – physiologically -- is as a non-life-threatening example of a stressful situation.

Think about it: When we exercise, our heart and breathing rates rise rapidly and blood vessels in our limbs dilate in order to deliver more oxygenated blood to our working muscle cells. The rapid rise in blood flow to the periphery -- especially to the legs -- can create a "heady" feeling, which reflects a temporary drop in blood pressure. This stimulates sympathetic nerves throughout the body to release substances that constrict blood vessels, even those vessels that feed working muscles.

Blood vessels in our leg muscles must respond to both dilating and constricting substances to meet the competing demands of muscle oxygen delivery and maintenance of bodily blood pressure, so we don't faint! It's a balancing act that could change with advancing age.

David Proctor and Urs Leuenberger and physiology student Dennis Koch, researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Hershey Medical Center, studied this possibility by manipulating the activity of the sympathetic nervous system in healthy older and younger men undergoing a moderate level of leg (cycling) exercise. They used a simple, but powerful sympathetic stimulus -- plunging a hand into a bucket of ice while still cycling -- and compared the blood vessel reactions in the legs of both age groups.

Editors note: Proctor is speaking at the American Physiological Society's 2004 Intersociety Meeting, "The Integrative Biology of Exercise," Oct. 6-9 in Austin. The meeting schedule is at (http://www.the-aps.org/meetings/aps/austin/tentative.pdf). The complete program, including abstracts, for the entire meeting is available upon request to members of the media.

Arrangements to attend the meeting, and for on-site or telephone interviews, can be made through APS with Mayer Resnick (cell: 301.332.4402, mresnick@the-aps.org) or through Stacy Brooks at 301.634.7253 (sbrooks@the-aps.org). From Oct. 6 (2 p.m.) to Oct. 9, the onsite phone number in Austin is 512.482.8000, room 602, or 512.682.2950 direct.

Leg blood supply in old age important to maintain lifestyle

Results of the Proctor-Leuenberger-Koch study suggest that the mechanisms controlling blood vessel "tone" in exercising muscles may be altered by age in humans. "The augmented constrictor response seen in legs of older men could be a compensatory mechanism for their reduced level of cardiac output during exercise," they reported. In other words, older adults may require a higher level of vascular "restraint" to preserve systemic blood pressure during exercise, Proctor said.

"We expected the blood vessels in the older men to constrict less (relative to younger men) during cold stimulation, based on previous research in older animals and humans under resting conditions," Proctor said. But leg vessels of the older men constricted more, perhaps as a compensation for their reduced level of cardiac output. This indicates that the balance between vasodilation and vasoconstriction in exercising muscle may change with age.

Proctor noted that his laboratory group "is one of the first to systematically study the impact of aging on blood flow to exercising muscle in healthy humans." It's important to study how healthy people age, he noted, "because keeping our rapidly expanding older population healthy will reduce the burden on our health-care system" as well as contribute to enhanced independence and quality of life in these individuals. Understanding the mechanisms by which blood flow to exercising muscles is altered with advancing age will also help us target interventions aimed at improving exercise tolerance in older adults, he said.

Next steps and funding: The researchers will be conducting similar experiments in women (both on estrogen replacement and not). They plan to study the mechanisms underlying age-related changes in vascular responsiveness to sympathetic stimulation; and to examine the importance of sympathetic outflow in regulating vascular tone and oxygen delivery to exercising muscles. Research is supported by the National Institute on Aging.

###

The 2004 Intersociety Meeting on the Integrated Biology of Exercise is cosponsored by APS, the American College of Sports Medicine and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Additional support as unrestricted educational grants came from: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD), Gatorade Sports Sciences Institute, Pfizer Inc. and U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM).

The American Physiological Society was founded in 1887 to foster basic and applied bioscience. The Bethesda, Maryland-based society has more than 10,000 members and publishes 14 peer-reviewed journals containing almost 4,000 articles annually.

APS provides a wide range of research, educational and career support and programming to further the contributions of physiology to understanding the mechanisms of diseased and healthy states. In May, APS received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physiological Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physiological Society. "Good News: As You Age, Leg Blood Vessels Adapt So You Can Still Exercise Without Fainting." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041006082659.htm>.
American Physiological Society. (2004, October 7). Good News: As You Age, Leg Blood Vessels Adapt So You Can Still Exercise Without Fainting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041006082659.htm
American Physiological Society. "Good News: As You Age, Leg Blood Vessels Adapt So You Can Still Exercise Without Fainting." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041006082659.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins