Beneficial effects of physical activity on baroreflex control in the elderly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The baroreflex mechanisms, by controlling autonomic outflow to the heart and circulation, contribute importantly to neural circulatory control. The main function of the baroreflex is to prevent wide fluctuations in arterial blood pressure and to maintain the physiological homeostasis under basal resting conditions and in response to acute stress. Baroreflex-mediated changes in autonomic outflow affect heart rate, myocardial contractility, and peripheral vascular resistance. The baroreflex control of heart rate is of particular interest in pathological conditions, since it has been associated with increased propensity for cardiac mortality and sudden death. Aging is associated with significant cardiovascular modifications. The changes in baroreflex function that occur with age have been systematically studied by several methodological approaches. The available evidence indicates a reduced arterial baroreflex control of heart rate favoring an increase in sympathetic and a decrease in parasympathetic drive to the heart as well as an impairment in the baroreceptor control of blood pressure. Both kinds of changes have resultant clinical implications. Exercise training can modulate the age-related decline in baroreflex function and the attending abnormalities in autonomic control, thus accounting for some of the beneficial effects of physical activity in reducing the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • age
  • autonomic balance
  • baroreflex sensitivity
  • exercise training
  • parasympathetic nervous system
  • sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Medicine(all)


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