Differential control of forearm and calf vascular resistance during one-leg exercise

J. A. Taylor, M. J. Joyner, P. B. Chase, D. R. Seals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine whether blood flow (BF) and vascular resistance (VR) are controlled differently in the nonactive arm and leg during submaximal rhythmic exercise. In eight healthy men we simultaneously measured BF to the forearm and calf (venous occlusion plethysmography) and arterial blood pressure (sphygmomanometry) and calculated whole limb VR before (control) and during 3 min of cycling with the contralateral leg at 38, 56, and 75% of peak one-leg O2 uptake (V̇O2). During the initial phase of exercise (0-1.5 min) at all work loads, BF increased and VR decreased in the forearm (P < 0.05), whereas calf BF and VR remained at control levels. Thereafter, BF decreased and VR increased in parallel and progressive fashion in both limbs. At end exercise, forearm BF and VR were not different from control values (P > 0.05); however, in the calf, BF tended to be lower (P < 0.05 at 75% peak V̇O2 only) and VR was higher (23 ± 9, 44 ± 14, and 88 ± 23% above control at 38, 56, and 75% of peak V̇O2, respectively, all P < 0.05). In a second series of studies, forearm and calf skin blood flow (laser-Doppler velocimetry) and arterial pressure were measured during the same levels of exercise in six of the subjects. Compared with control, skin BF was unchanged and VR was increased (P < 0.05) in the forearm by end exercise at all work loads, whereas calf skin BF increased (P < 0.05) and VR decreased (P < 0.05). The present findings indicate that skeletal muscle and skin VR are controlled differently in the nonactive forearm and calf during the initial phase of rhythmic exercise with the contralateral leg. Skeletal muscle vasodilation occurs in the forearm but not in the calf; forearm skin vasoconstricts, whereas calf skin vasodilates. Finally, during exercise a time-dependent vasoconstriction occurs in the skeletal muscle of both limbs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1791-1800
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989


  • autonomic nervous system
  • blood flow
  • physical stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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