Midlife aerobic exercise and dynamic cerebral autoregulation: Associations with baroreflex sensitivity and central arterial stiffness

Tsubasa Tomoto, Justin Repshas, Rong Zhang, Takashi Tarumi Ph.D.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Midlife aerobic exercise may significantly impact age-related changes in the cerebro- and cardiovascular regulations. This study investigated the associations of midlife aerobic exercise with dynamic cerebral autoregulation (dCA), cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (BRS), and central arterial stiffness. Twenty middle-aged athletes (MA) who had aerobic training for >10 yr were compared with 20 young (YS) and 20 middle-aged sedentary (MS) adults. Beat-to-beat cerebral blood flow velocity, blood pressure (BP), and heart rate were measured at rest and during forced BP oscillations induced by repeated sit-stand maneuvers at 0.05 Hz. Transfer function analysis was used to calculate dCA and BRS parameters. Carotid distensibility was measured by ultrasonography. MA had the highest peak oxygen uptake (V O2peak) among all groups. During forced BP oscillations, MS showed lower BRS gain than YS, but this age-related reduction was absent in MA. Conversely, dCA was similar among all groups. At rest, BRS and dCA gains at low frequency (∼0.1 Hz) were higher in the MA than in MS and YS groups. Carotid distensibility was similar between MA and YS groups, but it was lower in the MS. Across all subjects, V O2peak was positively associated with BRS gains at rest and during forced BP oscillations (r = 0.257∼0.382, P = 0.003∼0.050) and carotid distensibility (r = 0.428∼0.490, P = 0.001). Furthermore, dCA gain at rest and carotid distensibility were positively correlated with BRS gain at rest in YS and MA groups (all P < 0.05). These findings suggest that midlife aerobic exercise improves central arterial elasticity and BRS, which may contribute to cerebral blood flow (CBF) regulation through dCA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1599-1612
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Baroreflex sensitivity
  • Central arterial stiffness
  • Dynamic cerebral autoregulation
  • Middle age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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