The Cardiovascular Correlates of Exercise Require Integration of Central and Peripheral Mechanisms

Exercise causes activation of supramedullary neural networks that inhibit the activity of the baroreceptor reflex. The inhibition of medullary regions involved in the barore-ceptor reflex is called central command. Central command results in withdrawal of parasympathetic tone to the heart with a resulting increase in heart rate and cardiac output. The increased cardiac output supplies the added requirement for blood flow to exercising muscle. As exercise intensity increases, central command adds sympathetic tone that further increases heart rate and contractility. It also recruits sympathetic vasoconstriction that redistributes blood flow away from splanchnic organs and resting skeletal muscle to exercising muscle. Finally, afferent impulses from exercising skeletal muscle terminate in the RVL where they further augment sympathetic tone.

During exercise, blood flow of the skin is largely influenced by temperature regulation, as described in Chapter 17.

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