To determine whether extremity vasodilatory capacity may be augmented in older persons by endurance exercise training, lower leg blood flow and conductance were characterized plethysmographically at rest and during maximal hyperemia in 9 men and 10 women aged 64 +/- 3 (SD) yr before and after 31 +/- 6 wk of walking and jogging at 70-90% of maximal oxygen uptake for 45 min 3-5 days/wk. Maximal oxygen uptake expressed as milliliters per kilogram per minute improved 25% in men and 21% in women (P less than 0.01). Maximal leg blood flow and conductance increased in all nine men by an average of 39 +/- 33 (P less than 0.001) and 42 +/- 44% (P less than 0.004), respectively. Results were more variable in women and achieved unequivocal statistical significance only for maximal blood flow (+33 +/- 54% for blood flow and +29 +/- 55% for conductance; P less than 0.02 and P = 0.05, respectively). Body weight and skinfold adiposity declined in both sexes (P less than 0.05). Enhancement of vasodilatory capacity was related to weight loss in men and adipose tissue loss in women (r = 0.61 and 0.51, respectively; P less than 0.05). There were no significant changes in exercise capacity, body weight, or maximal blood flow in four male and three female controls aged 66 +/- 4 yr. Thus adaptability of the lower limb circulation to endurance exercise training is retained to at least age 65 yr.
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