Aerobic training and cutaneous vasodilation in young and older men

Carla M. Thomas, Jane M. Pierzga, W. Larry Kenney

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66 Scopus citations


To determine the effect and underlying mechanisms of exercise training and the influence of age on the skin blood flow (SkBF) response to exercise in a hot environment, 22 young (Y; 18-30 yr) and 21 older (O; 61-78 yr) men were assigned to 16 wk of aerobic (A; YA, n = 8; OA, n = 11), resistance (R; YR, n = 7; OR, n = 3), or no training (C; YC, n = 7; OC, n = 7). Before and after treatment, subjects exercised at 60% of maximum oxygen consumption (V̇o(2max)) on a cycle ergometer for 60 min at 36°C. Cutaneous vascular conductance, defined as SkBF divided by mean arterial pressure, was monitored at control (vasoconstriction intact) and bretylium-treated (vasoconstriction blocked) sites on the forearm using laser-Doppler flowmetry. Forearm vascular conductance was calculated as forearm blood flow (venous occlusion plethysmography) divided by mean arterial pressure. Esophageal and skin temperatures were recorded. Only aerobic training (functionally defined a priori as a 5% or greater increase in V̇O(2max)) produced a decrease in the mean body temperature threshold for increasing forearm vascular conductance (36.89 ± 0.08 to 36.63 ± 0.08°C, P < 0.003) and cutaneous vascular conductance (36.91 ± 0.08 to 36.65 ± 0.08°C, P < 0.004). Similar thresholds between control and bretylium-treated sites indicated that the decrease was mediated through the active vasodilator system. This shift was more pronounced in the older men who presented greater training-induced increases in V̇O(2max) than did the young men (22 and 9%, respectively). In summary, older men improved their SkBF response to exercise-heat stress through the effect of aerobic training on the cutaneous vasodilator system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1676-1686
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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