Cerebral blood flow and cerebrovascular reactivity at rest and during sub-maximal exercise: effect of age and 12-week exercise training

Carissa J Murrell, James D Cotter, Kate N Thomas, Samuel J E Lucas, Michael J A Williams, Philip N Ainslie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Chronic reductions in cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebrovascular reactivity to CO2 are risk factors for cerebrovascular disease. Higher aerobic fitness is associated with higher CBF at any age; however, whether CBF or reactivity can be elevated following an exercise training intervention in healthy individuals is unknown. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of exercise training on CBF and cerebrovascular reactivity at rest and during exercise in young and older individuals. Ten young (23 ± 5 years; body mass index (BMI), 26 ± 3 kg m(-2); [Formula: see text], 35 ± 5 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) and 10 older (63 ± 5 years; BMI, 25 ± 3.0 kg m(-2); [Formula: see text], 26 ± 4 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) previously sedentary individuals breathed 5 % CO2 for 3 min at rest and during steady-state cycling exercise (30 and 70 % heart rate range (HRR)) prior to and following a 12-week aerobic exercise intervention. Effects of training on middle cerebral artery blood velocity (MCAv) at rest were unclear in both age groups. The absolute MCAv response to exercise was greater in the young (9 and 9 cm s(-1) (30 and 70 % HRR, respectively) vs. 5 and 4 cm s(-1) (older), P < 0.05) and was similar following training. Cerebrovascular reactivity was elevated following the 12-week training at rest (2.87 ± 0.76 vs. 2.54 ± 1.12 cm s(-1) mm Hg(-1), P = 0.01) and during exercise, irrespective of age. The finding of a training-induced elevation in cerebrovascular reactivity provides further support for exercise as a preventative tool in cerebrovascular and neurological disease with ageing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)905-20
    Number of pages16
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


    • Adult
    • Aging/physiology
    • Blood Flow Velocity/physiology
    • Cerebrovascular Circulation/physiology
    • Cerebrovascular Disorders/physiopathology
    • Female
    • Follow-Up Studies
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Middle Aged
    • Middle Cerebral Artery/physiology
    • Physical Fitness/physiology
    • Reference Values
    • Rest/physiology
    • Young Adult


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