The aim of the present study was to determine non-invasively the effects of endurance training on both the size and blood flow of the arterial conductance vessels during exercise by men. Twelve healthy male subjects were assigned to either an exercise-trained group (ET, n = 7) or a sedentary control group (S, n = 5). The ET group underwent cycle-endurance training for 8 weeks (80% V̇O2(max), 40 min day-1, 5 days week-1). The S group led normal lives during the 8-week period. Before and after the training period, cross-sectional areas (CSA) of the ascending and abdominal aorta were measured by echography. Measurements were taken in the semisupine position on a cycle ergometer fitted with a backrest, at rest and during 40, 60 and 80% V̇O2(max) of exercise. In addition, Doppler ultrasonographic velocity and flow in the ascending aorta were simultaneously measured. The CSA of the ascending and abdominal aorta after training were significantly larger than those before training in the ET group. Although there were no significant differences in the peak and mean velocities in the ascending aorta before and after the training in the ET group, the blood flow in the ascending aorta during exercise after training was significantly larger than that found before training at each relative intensity. There were no significant differences in any of the Doppler echographic parameters in the S group. These findings suggest that the arterial conductance vessels can be morphologically altered in an adaptive response to the endurance training. Furthermore, the dilation of the conductance vessels with endurance training contributes to an increase in blood flow to the exercising muscles without a rise in blood velocity. In other words, the arterial conductance vessels adapt to maintain adequate blood velocity and shear stress.
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