Middle-aged endurance athletes exhibit lower cerebrovascular impedance than sedentary peers

Jun Sugawara, Tsubasa Tomoto, Justin Repshas, Rong Zhang, Takashi Tarumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Because elevated hemodynamic pulsatility could be mechanical stress against the brain, the dampening function of central and cerebral arteries is crucial. Regular endurance exercise training favorably restores the deteriorated dampening function of the aorta and carotid arteries in older populations, yet its effect on cerebrovascular dampening function remains unknown. To address this question, we compared cerebrovascular impedance, a frequency-domain relationship of the cerebral pressure and flow, in 21 middle-aged masters athletes who have been engaged in endurance training and races for >10 yr (MA, 53 ± 4 yr) with sedentary 21 age-matched (MS, 53 ± 5 yr) and 21 young (YS, 29 ± 6 yr) individuals. Using transfer function analysis, cerebrovascular impedance was computed from the simultaneously recorded carotid artery pressure (CAP, via applanation tonometry) and middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (CBFV, via transcranial Doppler). In the frequency range of 0.78 -3.12 Hz, coherence between pulsatile changes in CAP and CBFV was higher than 0.90 in all groups. All subjects exhibited the highest impedance modulus in the range of the first harmonic oscillations (0.78 -1.56 Hz) mainly originating from cardiac ejection. Impedance modulus in this range was significantly lower in the MA than MS groups (0.88 ± 0.24 vs. 1.15 ± 0.29 mmHg·s/cm, P = 0.011) and equivalent to the YS (0.92 ± 0.30 mmHg·s/cm). Among middle-aged subjects, higher impedance modulus was correlated with lower mean CBFV (r = -0.776, P < 0.001) and cerebral cortical perfusion evaluated by MRI (r = -0.371, P = 0.015). These results suggest that middle-aged endurance athletes exhibited the significantly lower modulus of cerebrovascular impedance, which is associated with higher CBFV and cerebral cortical perfusion. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Impedance modulus in the range of first harmonic oscillations (0.78 -1.56 Hz), which reflects heart rate at rest, was lower in middle-aged endurance athletes than in age-matched sedentary peers and was similar to young individuals. Prolonged endurance training is associated with the improved cerebrovascular dampening function in middle-aged adults. Lower cerebrovascular impedance modulus may contribute to maintaining brain perfusion in midlife.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial spin labeling
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Cerebrovascular impedance
  • Endurance training
  • Transcranial Doppler

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Middle-aged endurance athletes exhibit lower cerebrovascular impedance than sedentary peers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this