Newswise — Rockville, Md. (December 9, 2021)—Middle-aged endurance athletes have better control of blood pressure and higher arterial elasticity (a noninvasive measure of cardiovascular risk) than sedentary adults in the same age group. They also displayed comparable levels of these factors compared to young adults, thanks to regular aerobic exercise, according to new results from a joint study by physiologists in Texas and Japan. The findings offer strong indications that improvements in blood pressure control and vascular elasticity may contribute to better cerebral blood flow regulation in middle-aged people. The study is published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology and has been chosen as an APSselect article for December.

Midlife arterial stiffness is linked to a higher risk of stroke and dementia later in life, along with a greater risk of age-related chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and diabetes. The scientists conducting this study set out to investigate how regular aerobic exercise during midlife could mitigate the aforementioned maladies by improving age-related deteriorations of cerebral blood flow regulation, short-term blood pressure control and arterial elasticity.

The study was conducted in 20 middle-aged athletes (ages 45 to 64) with at least 10 years of aerobic training and in 20 adults younger than 45 and 20 middle-aged sedentary adults. Researchers defined regular aerobic exercise in this study as running, cycling, swimming or multimodal training with moderate-to-vigorous intensity.

The long-term benefits of this study potentially mean significant improvements to human health. “Our findings have an important clinical implication,” said co-researcher Takashi Tarumi, PhD, of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan. “Regular aerobic exercise during midlife may prevent these age-related chronic diseases and extend a healthy lifespan.”

Read the full article, “Midlife aerobic exercise and dynamic cerebral autoregulation: associations with baroreflex sensitivity and central arterial stiffness.” It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact APS Media Relations or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in our Newsroom

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.