Exercise training lowers resting renal but not cardiac sympathetic activity in humans.
Endurance exercise training has previously been shown to reduce the plasma concentration of norepinephrine. Whether reduction in sympathetic activity is responsible for the blood pressure-lowering effects of exercise training is unknown. Using a radiotracer technique, we measured resting total, cardiac, and renal norepinephrine spillover to plasma in eight habitually sedentary healthy normotensive men (aged 36 +/- 3 years, mean +/- SEM) after 1 month of regular exercise and 1 month of sedentary activity, performed in a randomized order. One month of bicycle exercise 3 times/wk (40 minutes at 60-70% maximum work capacity) reduced resting blood pressure by 8/5 mm Hg (p less than 0.01) and increased maximum oxygen consumption by 15% (p less than 0.05). The fall in blood pressure was attributable to a 12.1% increase in total peripheral conductance. Total norepinephrine spillover to plasma was reduced by 24% from a mean of 438.8 ng/min (p less than 0.05). Renal norepinephrine spillover fell by an average of 41% from 169.4 ng/min with bicycle training (p less than 0.05), accounting for the majority (66%) of the fall in total norepinephrine spillover. Renal vascular conductance was increased by 10% (p less than 0.05), but this constituted only 18% of the increase in total peripheral conductance. There was no change in cardiac norepinephrine spillover. The reduction in resting sympathetic activity with regular endurance exercise is largely confined to the kidney. The magnitude of the fall in renal vascular resistance, however, is insufficient to directly account for the blood pressure-lowering effect of exercise, although other effects of inhibition of the renal sympathetic outflow may be important.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association