Moderate aerobic training improves autonomic cardiovascular control in older women

Giosuè Gulli, Antonio Cevese, Paola Cappelletto, Gianpaolo Gasparini, Federico Schena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The decline in the cardiovascular autonomic regulation in advanced age is considered a risk factor for several cardiovascular diseases. We tested, on eleven healthy untreated women aged 60-70 years, whether a six-month period of group-based training exerts positive effects on this age-associated decline. Before and after training, ECG and arterial pressure (Finapres) were recorded in supine position. We calculated mean values ± SEM of R-R period (RR), systolic (SAP) and diastolic (DAP) arterial pressure, as well as, by autoregressive spectral analysis methods, low (= 0.1 Hz) and high (respiratory) frequency oscillations of RR (LFRR, HFRR) and SAP (LFSAP, HFSAP), and the baroreflex sensitivity (BRS). Training induced statistically significant changes (p <0.05 by paired t-test): increase in RR (mean ± SEM) from 894 ± 41 to 947± 31 ms and in heart rate variability (HRV) by 25%, decrease in DAP from 75.8 ± 3.0 to 70.8 ± 2.2 mmHg, no change in SAP. LFRR and LFSAP increased by more than 100%, while BRS by 32%.We suggest that the increase in BRS might be responsible for the observed bradycardia and higher LFRR. An improved modulation, rather than an increase, in tonic sympathetic activity, is also suggested. A specific program of moderate aerobic training is adequate to increase the BRS and the HRV in older women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Autonomic Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003


  • Ageing population
  • Autonomic function
  • Baroreflex
  • Exercise
  • Heart rate variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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    Gulli, G., Cevese, A., Cappelletto, P., Gasparini, G., & Schena, F. (2003). Moderate aerobic training improves autonomic cardiovascular control in older women. Clinical Autonomic Research, 13(3), 196-202.