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Exercise and autonomic function

Goldsmith, Rochelle L. a; Bloomfield, Daniel M. b; Rosenwinkel, Eric T. a

Review in Depth: Exercise in the modification of cardiovascular disease risk: biologic mechanisms.
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The complex interplay between the dichotomous subdivisions of the autonomic nervous system establishes and maintains a delicately tuned homeostasis in spite of an ever-changing environment. Aerobic exercise training can increase activity of the parasympathetic nervous system and decrease sympathetic activity. Conversely, it is well-documented that cardiac disease is often characterized by attenuated parasympathetic activity and heightened sympathetic tone. A correlation between autonomic disequilibrium and disease has led to the hypothesis that exercise training, as a therapy that restores the autonomic nervous system towards normal function, may be associated with, and possibly responsible for, outcome improvements in various populations. This is merely one of the many benefits that is conferred by chronic exercise training and reviewed in this issue.

a Division of Circulatory Physiology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and b Division of Cardiology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York, USA

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr Rochelle Goldsmith, Division of Circulatory Physiology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 West 168th St, New York, NY 10032, USA. Tel: +1 212 305 9273; fax: +1 212 305 9259; e-mail: rlg11@columbia.edu

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.