Messages to the brain that control blood pressure during exercise are decreased in people with ID

By Konstantina Dipla, PhD
Laboratory of Exercise Physiology and Biochemistry, Department of Physical Education and Sports Science at Serres, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) may have physiological limitations when exercising compared to the general population (such as low levels of muscle strength and power, low peak oxygen consumption, and diminished work capacity). In addition, people with ID have lower than expected maximum heart rate (highest heart rate an individual can achieve without severe problems through exercise stress). There may be a dysfunction in the neural control of heart rate during exercise. The role of the muscle metaboreflex (reflex of the muscle) to the exercise in these individuals has not been previously studied.

What did you do in your research?
In our study, we investigated the blood movement responses to handgrip exercise and examined the role of the muscle reflex in individuals with ID and non-disabled control participants.

What did you find out?
Individuals with ID were able to sustain an exercise arterial pressure response at similar levels as the control group. However, the heart rate was lower than predicted and reflex of the muscle was slower.

What are the take-home messages?
Lower heart rate during handgrip exercise was associated with reduced vagal (neural) response during exercise. In addition, individuals with ID exhibited a reduced muscle reflex pressure response. These factors possibly contribute to the exercise intolerance of individuals with ID.

To learn more about these findings contact
Konstantina Dipla.

Full Journal Article
Dipla, K., Zafeiridis, A., Papadopoulos, S., Koskolou, M., Geladas, N. and Vrabas, I.S. (2013). Reduced metaboreflex control of blood pressure during exercise in individuals with intellectual disability: A possible contributor to exercise intolerance. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34(1), 335-343.