Psychological stress is an important global health problem. It is well documented that stress increases the incidences of various cardiovascular disorders. Regular exercise is known to reduce resting blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR). This study was designed to clarify the effects of long-term exercise on stress-evoked cardiovascular responses and to emphasize post-stress recovery effects. Male Wistar rats underwent 8 weeks of moderate treadmill training, with cardiovascular responses, autonomic nervous system activities and local Fos reactivity changes in the cardiovascular regulation center were monitored before, during and after immobilization stress. A spectral analysis of cardiovascular parameters was used to examine autonomic nervous activities. We found that long-term exercise (i) lowered resting BP, HR and sympathetic activity, but increased resting parasympathetic activity and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS); (ii) accelerated post-stress recovery of stress-evoked cardiovascular and sympathetic responses along with increased BRS and (iii) accelerated post-stress recovery of stress-evoked neuron activations in the paraventricular nucleus, but delayed it in the nucleus of the tractus solitarius. We conclude that, in rats, long-term exercise accelerated recovery of stress-evoked cardiovascular responses differentially altering hypothalamic and medullar neuron activities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Behavioral Neuroscience