High salt intake augments blood pressure responses during submaximal aerobic exercise

Matthew C. Babcock, Austin T. Robinson, Kamila U. Migdal, Joseph C. Watso, Christopher R. Martens, David G. Edwards, Linda S. Pescatello, William B. Farquhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: High sodium (Na+) intake is a widespread cardiovascular disease risk factor. High Na+ intake impairs endothelial function and exaggerates sympathetic reflexes, which may augment exercising blood pressure (BP) responses. Therefore, this study examined the influence of high dietary Na+ on BP responses during submaximal aerobic exercise. METHODS AND RESULTS: Twenty adults (8F/12M, age=24±4 years; body mass index 23.0±0.6 kg·m−2; VO2 peak=39.7± 9.8 mL·min−1·kg−1; systolic BP=111±10 mm Hg; diastolic BP=64±8 mm Hg) participated in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study. Total Na+ intake was manipulated via ingestion of capsules containing either a placebo (dextrose) or table salt (3900 mg Na+/day) for 10 days each, separated by ≥2 weeks. On day 10 of each intervention, endothelial function was assessed via flow-mediated dilation followed by BP measurement at rest and during 50 minutes of cycling at 60% VO2peak . Throughout exercise, BP was assessed continuously via finger photoplethysmography and every 5 minutes via auscultation. Venous blood samples were collected at rest and during the final 10 minutes of exercise for assessment of norepinephrine. High Na+ intake increased urinary Na+ excretion (placebo=140±68 versus Na+=282±70 mmol·24H−1; P<0.001) and reduced flow-mediated dilation (placebo=7.2±2.4 versus Na+=4.2±1.7%; P<0.001). Average exercising systolic BP was augmented following high Na+ (placebo=Δ30.0±16.3 versus Na+=Δ38.3±16.2 mm Hg; P=0.03) and correlated to the reduction in flow-mediated dilation (R=−0.71, P=0.002). Resting norepinephrine concentration was not different between conditions (P=0.82). Norepinephrine increased during exercise (P=0.002), but there was no Na+ effect (P=0.26). CONCLUSIONS: High dietary Na+ augments BP responses during submaximal aerobic exercise, which may be mediated, in part, by impaired endothelial function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere015633
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 18 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute exercise
  • Blood pressure
  • Dietary sodium
  • Exercise pressor reflex
  • Flow-mediated dilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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