Graduate School of Physical Education, National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Kanoya, Japan.
The objective of this study was to examine the effects of exercise training in hypoxia on arterial stiffness and flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in postmenopausal women. Sixteen postmenopausal women (56 ± 1 years) were assigned to a normoxic exercise group (Normoxic group, n = 8) or a hypoxic exercise group (Hypoxic group, n = 8). The Hypoxic group performed exercise under hypobaric hypoxic conditions corresponding to 2000 m above sea level, and was exposed to these conditions for 2 h per session. Aquatic exercise was performed at an intensity of around 50% peak oxygen uptake for 30 min, 4 days per week, for 8 weeks. Arterial stiffness was assessed by brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV), and FMD was evaluated by peak diameter of the popliteal artery during reactive hyperemia. After the 8 weeks of training, the Normoxic group showed no significant changes. In contrast, baPWV (P < 0.05) was significantly reduced and peak diameter (P < 0.05) and %FMD (P < 0.01) were significantly increased in the Hypoxic group after training. These results suggest that exercise training under mild intermittent hypoxic conditions could more effectively reduce arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women, compared with exercise training performed at the same relative intensity under normoxic conditions. Our data also indicate that hypoxic exercise training may induce vascular functional adaptation, for example an increase in FMD response. These findings therefore could have important implications for the development of a new effective exercise prescription program.