Postexercise hypotension and sustained postexercise vasodilatation: What happens after we exercise?

John R. Halliwill, Tahisha M. Buck, Alisha N. Lacewell, Steven A. Romero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

245 Scopus citations


A single bout of aerobic exercise produces a postexercise hypotension associated with a sustained postexercise vasodilatation of the previously exercised muscle. Work over the last few years has determined key pathways for the obligatory components of postexercise hypotension and sustained postexercise vasodilatation and points the way to possible benefits that may result from these robust responses. During the exercise recovery period, the combination of centrally mediated decreases in sympathetic nerve activity with a reduced signal transduction from sympathetic nerve activation into vasoconstriction, as well as local vasodilator mechanisms, contributes to the fall in arterial blood pressure seen after exercise. Important findings from recent studies include the recognition that skeletal muscle afferents may play a primary role in postexercise resetting of the baroreflex via discrete receptor changes within the nucleus tractus solitarii and that sustained postexercise vasodilatation of the previously active skeletal muscle is primarily the result of histamine H1 and H2 receptor activation. Future research directions include further exploration of the potential benefits of these changes in the longer term adaptations associated with exercise training, as well as investigation of how the recovery from exercise may provide windows of opportunity for targeted interventions in patients with hypertension and diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


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