Impact of age on the cardiovascular response to dynamic upright exercise in healthy men and women

J. L. Fleg, F. O'Connor, G. Gerstenblith, L. C. Becker, J. Clulow, S. P. Schulman, E. G. Lakatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

348 Scopus citations


To examine whether age differentially modifies the physiological response to exercise in men and women, we performed gated radionuclide ventriculography with measurement of left ventricular volumes at rest and during peak upright cycle exercise in 200 rigorously screened healthy sedentary volunteers (121 men and 79 women) aged 22-86 yr from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. At rest in the sitting position, age-associated declines in heart rate (HR) and increases in systolic blood pressure occurred in both sexes. Whereas resting cardiac index (CI) and total systemic vascular resistance (TSVR) in men did not vary with age, in women testing CI decreased 16% and TSVR increased 46% over the six-decade age span. Men, but not women, demonstrated an age-associated increase of ~20% in sitting end-diastolic volume index (EDVI), end-systolic volume index (ESVI), and stroke volume index over this age span. Peak cycle work rate declined with age ~40% in both sexes, but at any age it was greater in men than in women even after normalization for body weight. At peak effort, ejection fraction (EF), HR, and CI were reduced similarly with age while ESVI and TSVR were increased in both sexes; EDVI increased 35% with age and stroke work index (SWI) rose 19% in men, but neither was related to age in women; and stroke volume index did not vary with age in either sex. When hemodynamics were expressed as the change from rest to peak effort as an index of cardiovascular reserve function, both sexes demonstrated age-associated increases in EDVI and ESVI and reductions in EF, HR, and CI. However, the exercise-induced reduction in ESVI and the increases in EF, CI, and SWI from rest were greater in men than in women. Thus, age and gender each have a significant impact on the cardiac response to exhaustive upright cycle exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-900
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1995


  • cardiovascular performance
  • gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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