European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 8, pp 1625–1633 | Cite as

Intermittent versus constant aerobic exercise in middle-aged males: acute effects on arterial stiffness and factors influencing the changes

  • D. Peres
  • L. Mourot
  • A. Ménétrier
  • M. Bouhaddi
  • B. Degano
  • J. Regnard
  • N. Tordi
Original Article



Both constant and intermittent acute aerobic exercises have been found to decrease arterial stiffness. However, direct comparisons of these two types of exercise are sparse. It is not known which type of exercise has the greatest effect.


We evaluated the haemodynamic responses in 15 males (age 48.5 ± 1.3 years; BMI 27.5 ± 0.8 kg m−2) following acute constant (CE) and intermittent cycling exercise (IE). Duration and heart rate were matched during both exercises (131.8 ± 3.2 bpm for CE and 132.0 ± 3.1 bpm for IE). Central and peripheral arterial stiffness was assessed through pulse wave velocity (PWV). Plasma concentrations of nitric oxide (NO), atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), blood lactate, noradrenaline, and adrenaline were measured before and after each exercise.


Central (+ 1.8 ± 7.4 and − 6.5 ± 6.8% for CE and IE) and upper limb PWV (+ 2.7 ± 6.2 and − 8 ± 4.6% for CE and IE) were not significantly altered although a small decrease (small effect size) was observed after IE. However, lower limb PWV significantly decreased after exercises (− 7.3 ± 5.7 and − 15.9 ± 4% after CE and IE), with a larger effect after IE.


Greater decrease in lower limb PWV occurred after IE despite greater heart rate. This may be due to the higher blood levels of lactate during IE, while NO, ANP, noradrenaline, and adrenaline levels remained not statistically different from CE. These results underlined the importance of lactate in triggering the post-exercise vascular response to exercise, as well as its regional characteristic.


Middle-age Pulse wave velocity Vasodilator Nitric oxide Aerobic exercises Acute exercise 



Analysis of variance


Atrial natriuretic peptide


Blood pressure


Constant exercise


Diastolic blood pressure




Intermittent exercise


High performance liquid chromatography


Heart rate


Heart rate variability


Mean blood pressure


Nitric oxide


Pulse transit time


Post-exercise hypotension


Pulse wave velocity


Pulse wave velocity upper limb


Pulse wave velocity lower limb


Root mean square of the successive differences


Systolic blood pressure


Standard deviation of the r-r interval


Standard error of the mean


Time delay



The authors would like to thank the subjects for their time and enthusiasm. We also thank to National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-Brazil) for the support, C. Capitan for technical assistance and F. Ecarnot for translation and editorial assistance. The research was supported by grants from the Ministry for Higher education, Research Innovation and from Tomsk Polytechnic University Competitiveness Enhancement Program grant, Project no. ВИУ-ИСГТ-108/2017-TPU CEP-HSTI-108/2017 and by a Young Investigator Grant (from the Region of Franche-Comté, France).

Author contribution statement

Conception of the study: LM., AM and NT designed the study and carried out the experiment of the presented idea and developed the theory. DP, LM, AM and NT analyzed data, DP, LM, AM, MB, BG, JR, and NT interpreted results of experiments. DP prepared figures. DP, LM, NT drafted, edited and revised manuscript but all authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript, provided critical feedback.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Peres
    • 1
    • 5
  • L. Mourot
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. Ménétrier
    • 2
  • M. Bouhaddi
    • 2
    • 4
  • B. Degano
    • 2
    • 4
  • J. Regnard
    • 2
    • 4
  • N. Tordi
    • 1
  1. 1.EA4267 PEPITE, (Exercise Performance Health Innovation-EPHI)Bourgogne Franche-Comté UniversityBesançonFrance
  2. 2.EA3920 Prognostic and Regulatory Factors of Cardiac and Vascular Diseases, (Exercise Performance Health Innovation-EPHI)Bourgogne Franche-Comté UniversityBesançonFrance
  3. 3.Tomsk Polytechnic UniversityTomskRussia
  4. 4.Functional ExplorationsUniversity Hospital BesançonBesançonFrance
  5. 5.Besançon CedexFrance

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