It is currently unclear whether aging alters the perfusion of active muscles during large-muscle dynamic exercise in humans. To study this issue, direct measurements of leg blood flow (femoral vein thermodilution) and systemic arterial pressure during submaximal cycle ergometry (70, 140, and 210 W) were compared between six younger (Y; 22-30 yr) and six older (O; 55- 68 yr) chronically endurance-trained men. Whole body O2 uptake, ventilation, and arterial and femoral venous samples for blood-gas, catecholamine, and lactate determinations were also obtained. Training duration (min/day), estimated leg muscle mass (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; Y, 21.5 ± 1.2 vs. O, 19.9 ± 0.9 kg), and blood hemoglobin concentration (Y, 14.9 ± 0.4 vs. O, 14.7 ± 0.2 g/dl) did not significantly differ (P > 0.05) between groups. Leg blood flow, leg vascular conductance, and femoral venous O2 saturation were ~20-30% lower in the older men at each work rate (all P < 0.05), despite similar levels of whole body O2 uptake. At 210 W, leg norepinephrine spillover rates and femoral venous lactate concentrations were more than twofold higher in the older men. Pulmonary ventilation was also higher in the older men at 140 (+24%) and 210 (+39%) W. These results indicate that leg blood flow and vascular conductance during cycle ergometer exercise are significantly lower in older endurance-trained men in comparison to their younger counterparts. The mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon and the extent to which they operate in other groups of older subjects deserve further attention.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)