Influence of fitness and gender on blood pressure responses during active or passive stress

Rod K. Dishman*, Erica M. Jackson, Yoshio Nakamura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


We examined hemodynamic and autonomic components of blood pressure responses during active and passive stressor tasks in a sample of young, normotensive men and women who were physically active but differed on fitness (i.e., V̇O2peak). During the hand cold pressor, increases in systolic blood pressure were inversely related to fitness among women but not men. Regardless of gender, fitter participants had a greater increase in cardiac pace during mental arithmetic, coherent with a decreased cardiac-vagal component of heart rate variability, and a greater compensatory reduction in stroke volume. Fitness was otherwise unrelated to changes in cardiac output and vascular resistance during the stressor tasks. Our findings suggest that cardiorespiratory fitness augments the cardiac-vagal withdrawal that is characteristic of mental arithmetic. The blunted systolic blood pressure response to the hand cold pressor among fitter women suggests that cardiorespiratory fitness should be considered as a covariate in studies that examine the hand cold pressor as a predictor of future hypertension among women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-576
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Sept 23
Externally publishedYes


  • Anger
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Blood flow
  • Cardiac output
  • Heart rate variability
  • Stroke volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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