Impaired leg vasodilation during dynamic exercise in healthy older women

David N. Proctor, Dennis W. Koch, Sean C. Newcomer, Khoi U. Le, Urs A. Leuenberger

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94 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that leg blood flow responses during leg cycle ergometry are reduced with age in healthy non-estrogen-replaced women. Thirteen younger (20-27 yr) and thirteen older (61-71 yr) normotensive, non-endurance-trained women performed both graded and constant-load bouts of leg cycling at the same absolute exercise intensities. Leg blood flow (femoral vein thermodilution), mean arterial pressure (MAP; radial artery), mean femoral venous pressure, cardiac output (acetylene rebreathing), and blood O2 contents were measured. Leg blood flow responses at light workloads (20-40 W) were similar in younger and older women. However, at moderate workloads (50-60 W), leg blood flow responses were significantly attenuated in older women. MAP was 20-25 mmHg higher (P < 0.01) in the older women across all work intensities, and calculated leg vascular conductance (leg blood flow/estimated leg perfusion pressure) was lower (P < 0.05). Exercise-induced increases in leg arteriovenous O2 difference and O2 extraction were identical between groups (P > 0.6). Leg O2 uptake was tightly correlated with leg blood flow across all workloads in both subject groups (r2 = 0.80). These results suggest the ability of healthy older women to undergo limb vasodilation in response to submaximal exercise is impaired and that the legs are a potentially important contributor to the augmented systemic vascular resistance seen during dynamic exercise in older women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1963-1970
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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