Is it all an effect of sand through the hourglass?
The ability to sustain a given absolute submaximal workload declines with advancing age likely due to a lower level of blood flow and O2 delivery to the exercising muscles. Given that physical inactivity mimics many of the physiological changes associated with ageing, separating the physiological consequences of ageing and physical inactivity can be challenging; yet, observations from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies on the effects of physical activity have provided some insight. Physical activity has the potential to offset the age-related decline in blood flow to contracting skeletal muscle during exercise where systemic blood flow is not limited by cardiac output, thereby improving O2 delivery and allowing for an enhanced energy production from oxidative metabolism. The mechanisms underlying the increase in blood flow with regular physical activity include improved endothelial function and the ability for functional sympatholysis; an attenuation of the vasoconstrictor effect of sympathetic nervous activity. These vascular adaptations with physical activity are likely to be an effect of improved nitric oxide and ATP signaling. Collectively, precise matching of blood flow and O2 delivery to meet the O2 demand of the active skeletal muscle of aged individuals during conditions where systemic blood flow is not limited by cardiac output seems to a large extent to be related to the level of physical activity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Journal review article
Journal of Physiology, 2016, Vol 594, Issue 8, p. 2297-2305
Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review