Elevated Aerobic Fitness Sustained Throughout the Adult Lifespan Is Associated With Improved Cerebral Hemodynamics

Damian Bailey, Christopher Marley, Julien Brugniaux, Danielle Hodson, Karl New, Shigehiko Ogoh, Philip Ainslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose

Age-related impairments in cerebral blood flow and cerebrovascular reactivity to carbon dioxide (CVRCO2) are established risk factors for stroke that respond favorably to aerobic training. The present study examined to what extent cerebra hemodynamics are improved when training is sustained throughout the adult lifespan.


Eighty-one healthy males were prospectively assigned to 1 of 4 groups based on their age(young, ≤30 years versus old, ≥60 years) and lifetime physical activity levels(trained, ≥150 minutes recreational aerobic activity/week versus sedentary, no activity). Middle cerebral artery blood velocity (MCAv, transcranial Doppler ultrasound), mean arterial pressure (MAP, finger photoplethysmography), and end-tidal partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PETCO2, capnography) were recorded during normocapnia and 3 mins of iso-oxic hypercapnea (5% CO2).Cerebrovascular resistance/conductance indices (CVRi/CVCi) were calculated asMAP/MCAv and MCAv/MAP, respectively, and CVRCO2 as the percentage increase inMCAv from baseline per millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) increase in PETCO2. Maximal oxygen consumption (GraphicO2MAX, online respiratory gas analysis) was determined during cycling ergometry.


By design, older participants were active for longer (49±5 versus 6±4 years, P<0.05).Physical activity attenuated the age-related declines in GraphicO2MAX, MCAv,CVCi, and CVRCO2 and increase in CVRi (P<0.05 versus sedentary). Linear relationships were observed between GraphicO2MAX and both MCAv and CVRCO2(r=0.58–0.77, P<0.05).


These findings highlight the importance of maintaining aerobic fitness throughout the lifespan given its capacity to improve cerebral hemodynamics in later-life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3235 - 3238
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • aerobic exercise
  • Ageing
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Perfusion
  • Stroke


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