High-intensity exercise does not protect against orthostatic intolerance following bedrest in 55- to 65-yr-old men and women Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Prolonged bedrest provokes orthostatic hypotension and intolerance of upright posture. Limited data are available on the cardiovascular responses of older adults to head-up tilt following bedrest, with no studies examining the potential benefits of exercise to mitigate intolerance in this age group. This randomized controlled trial of head-down bedrest (HDBR) in 55- to 65-yr-old men and women investigated if exercise could avert post-HDBR orthostatic intolerance. Twenty-two healthy older adults (11 female) underwent a strict 14-day HDBR and were assigned to either an exercise (EX) or control (CON) group. The exercise intervention included high-intensity, aerobic, and resistance exercises. Head-up tilt-testing to a maximum of 15 minutes was performed at baseline (Pre-Bedrest) and immediately after HDBR (R1), as well as 6 days (R6) and 4 weeks (R4wk) later. At Pre-Bedrest, three participants did not complete the full 15 minutes of tilt. At R1, 18 did not finish, with no difference in tilt end time between CON (422 ± 287 s) and EX (409 ± 346 s). No differences between CON and EX were observed at R6 or R4wk. At R1, just 1 participant self-terminated the test with symptoms, while 12 others reported symptoms only after physiological test termination criteria were reached. Finishers on R1 protected arterial pressure with higher total peripheral resistance relative to Pre-Bedrest. Cerebral blood velocity decreased linearly with reductions in arterial pressure, end-tidal CO2, and cardiac output. High-intensity interval exercise did not benefit post-HDBR orthostatic tolerance in older adults. Multiple factors were associated with the reduction in cerebral blood velocity leading to intolerance.


  • Mastrandrea, Carmelo J
  • Hedge, Eric T
  • Robertson, Andrew D
  • Heckman, George
  • Ho, Joanne
  • Granados Unger, Federico
  • Hughson, Richard L

publication date

  • August 1, 2023