European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 5, pp 989–1001 | Cite as

Lack of age-specific influence on leg blood flow during incremental calf plantar-flexion exercise in men and women

Original Article
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Abstract

Purpose

Age-related exercising leg blood flow (LBF) responses during dynamic knee-extension exercise and forearm blood flow responses during handgrip exercise are preserved in normally active men but attenuated in activity-matched women. We explored whether these age- and sex-specific effects are also apparent during isometric calf plantar-flexion incremental exercise.

Methods

Normally active young men (YM, n = 15, 24 ± 2 years), young women (YW, n = 8, 22 ± 1 years), older men (OM, n = 13, 70 ± 7 years) and older women (OW, n = 10, 64 ± 7 years) were tested. LBF was measured between contractions using venous occlusion plethysmography.

Results

Peak force obtained was higher (P < 0.05) in men compared with women and in young compared with older individuals. However, peak LBF (YM; 971 ± 328 ml min−1, OM; 985 ± 504 ml min−1, YW; 844 ± 366 ml min−1, OW; 960 ± 244 ml min−1) and peak leg vascular conductance [LVC = LBF/(MAP + hydrostatic pressure)] responses (YM; 6.0 ± 1.8 ml min−1 mmHg−1, OM; 5.5 ± 2.8 ml min−1 mmHg−1, YW; 5.3 ± 2.1 ml min−1 mmHg−1, OW; 5.5 ± 1.6 ml min−1 mmHg−1) were similar among the four groups. Furthermore, the hyperaemic (YM; 8.8 ± 3.7 ml min−1 %Fpeak−1 OM; 8.3 ± 5.4 ml min−1 %Fpeak−1, YW; 8.2 ± 3.5 ml min−1 %Fpeak−1, OW; 9.6 ± 2.2 ml min−1 %Fpeak−1) and vasodilatory responses (YM; 0.053 ± 0.020 ml min−1 mmHg−1 %Fpeak−1, OM; 0.048 ± 0.028 ml min−1 mmHg−1 %Fpeak−1, YW; 0.051 ± 0.019 ml min−1 mmHg−1 %Fpeak−1, OW; 0.055 ± 0.014 ml min−1 mmHg−1 %Fpeak−1) were not different among the four groups. These results were accompanied by similar resting LBF responses among groups and were not affected when data were normalised to estimated leg muscle mass.

Conclusions

Our results demonstrate that exercising LBF responses during isometric incremental calf muscle exercise are preserved in older men and women, suggesting that the previously observed age-related attenuations in leg and forearm hyperaemia among women may be muscle-group specific.

Keywords

Age Blood flow Hyperaemia Sex Calf exercise 

Abbreviations

ANOVA

Analysis of variance

BP

Blood pressure

FBF

Forearm blood flow

FVC

Forearm vascular conductance

LBF

Leg blood flow

LOPAR

Low-level physical activity recall

LVC

Leg vascular conductance

MAP

Mean arterial blood pressure

MVC

Maximal voluntary contraction

OM

Older men

OW

Older women

SD

Standard deviation

VOP

Venous occlusion plethysmography

YM

Young men

YW

Young women

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Mr David Fletcher (Trinity College Dublin) for improving the rapid tilting manoeuvre of the calf ergometer.

Author contributions

HR, LL and ME conceived and designed research. HR and LL conducted experiments, HR, LL and ME analysed data. HR and ME wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, School of MedicineTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland

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