Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)

Aerobic training and cutaneous vasodilation in young and older men.

PMID 10233135


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 (VO2 max) on a cycle ergometer for 60 min at 36 degrees 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 VO2 max) produced a decrease in the mean body temperature threshold for increasing forearm vascular conductance (36.89 +/- 0.08 to 36.63 +/- 0.08 degrees C, P < 0.003) and cutaneous vascular conductance (36.91 +/- 0.08 to 36.65 +/- 0.08 degrees 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 VO2 max 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.