Calf blood flow is augmented in habitually aerobically trained versus untrained postmenopausal women in association with favorable modulation of vasculo-metabolic interactions

Jennifer Craig, Elizabeth C Akam, Stephen J Bailey, Richard A Ferguson, Emma O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Menopause is associated with vascular dysfunction and increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Associations between vascular and metabolic health, and interactions with aerobic exercise training, are unknown in postmenopausal women (PMW). Methods: In habitually aerobically trained PMW (PMWtr; n = 10; 57 ± 1 years; 40 ± 1 mL/kg/min), strain-gauge plethysmography was used to compare resting and peak calf blood flow (CBFr and CBFpk, respectively) and vascular resistance (CVRr; CVRpk) versus untrained PMW (PMWun; n = 13; 56 ± 1 years; 29 ± 1 mL/kg/min) and premenopausal women (PreM; n = 14; 26 ± 1 years; 40 ± 1 mL/kg/min). Vascular measures were taken before and 1 hour after 45 minutes of aerobic exercise (60% V ̇O 2peak), a known nitric oxide stimulus. Blood analyses included low- (LDLc) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLc), insulin, and glucose. Results: Pre-exercise, CBFr and CVRr did not differ (p > 0.05) between PMW groups, nor between PreM and PMWtr. CBFpk was highest (p < 0.05) and CVRpk was lowest (p < 0.05) in PMWtr. Blood markers were similar (p > 0.05) in PMW groups. However, in PMWtr, CBFpk was associated inversely (p < 0.05) with insulin (r = −0.725). Conversely, in PMWun, CBFpk correlated (p < 0.05) inversely with glucose (r = −0.717), positively with HDLc (r = 0.633), and CVRpk positively (p < 0.05) with LDLc (r = 0.568). Post-exercise, CBF increased and CVR decreased (p < 0.05) in all groups, yet CBFpk remained higher and CVRpk lower (p < 0.05) in PMWtr. Conclusion: In untrained PMW, peak CBF is associated inversely with circulating pro-atherogenic lipids and glucose. In contrast, peak CBF is associated inversely with insulin levels only in trained PMW. Habitual aerobic exercise may favorably modulate vasculo-metabolic interactions in PMW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-893
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Issue number6
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded in part by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre.

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank all of the volunteers who participated in the study. The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service (NHS), the NIHR, or the Department of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science In Sports published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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