Heart rate and blood pressure responses to isometric exercise in young and older men


The aim of this study was to examine the isometric endurance response and the heart rate and blood pressure responses to isometric exercise in two muscle groups in ten young (age 23–29 years) and seven older (age 54–59 years) physically active men with similar estimated forearm and thigh muscle masses. Isometric contractions were held until fatigue using the finger flexor muscles (handgrip) and with the quadriceps muscle (one-legged knee extension) at 20%, 40%, and 60% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Heart rate and arterial pressure were related to the the individual's contraction times. The isometric endurance response was longer with handgrip than with one-legged knee extension, but no significant difference was observed between the age groups. The isometric endurance response averaged 542 (SEM 57), 153 (SEM 14), and 59 (SEM 5) s for the handgrip, and 276 (SEM 35), 94 (SEM 10) and 48 (SEM 5) s for the knee extension at the three MVC levels, respectively. Heart rate and blood pressure became higher during one-legged knee extension than during handgrip, and with increasing level of contraction. The older subjects had a lower heart rate and a higher blood pressure response than their younger counterparts, and the differences were more apparent at a higher force level. The results would indicate that increasing age is associated with an altered heart rate and blood pressure response to isometric exercise although it does not affect isometric endurance.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information



Additional information

Accepted: 23 October 1997

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Smolander, J., Aminoff, T., Korhonen, I. et al. Heart rate and blood pressure responses to isometric exercise in young and older men. Eur J Appl Physiol 77, 439–444 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210050357

Download citation

  • Key words Isometric exercise
  • Aging
  • Endurance
  • Cir-culatory responses