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Effects of estrogen therapy and aerobic training on sympathetic activity and hemodynamics in healthy postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomized trial

Oneda, Bruna PhD1; Cardoso, Crivaldo G. Jr PhD2,3; Forjaz, Cláudia L. M. PhD2; Araújo, Tatiana G. BS1; Bernardo, Fernanda R. MD1; de Gusmão, Josiane Lima PhD1; Pinto, Luiz Gustavo MS2; Labes, Eliana BS4; Abrahão, Sandra B. PhD1; Mion, Décio Jr PhD1; Fonseca, Angela M. PhD4; Tinucci, Taís PhD1,2

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e31829d2a00
Original Articles

Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the isolated and associated effects of aerobic training and estrogen therapy on sympathetic nerve activity and hemodynamics in healthy postmenopausal women.

Methods Forty-five postmenopausal women (mean [SD] age, 51 [3] y) were randomly divided into four groups: sedentary-placebo (SED-PLA; n = 11), sedentary–estrogen therapy (SED-ET; n = 14), aerobic training–placebo (AT-PLA; n = 12), and aerobic training–estrogen therapy (AT-ET; n = 8). The ET groups received oral estradiol valerate (1 mg/d), whereas the PLA groups received placebo. The AT groups performed aerobic exercise three times a week on a cycle ergometer for 50 minutes, whereas the SED groups remained sedentary. All participants were evaluated before and after 6 months. Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA; microneurography), forearm blood flow (plethysmography), blood pressure (oscillometry), and heart rate (HR) were measured at rest for 10 minutes. Data were analyzed by three-way analysis of variance.

Results Estrogen administration itself did not change any of the studied parameters. AT improved forearm blood flow (AT-PLA, 2.02 [0.85] vs 2.92 [1.65] mL min−1 100 mL−1, P = 0.03; AT-ET, 1.68 [1.11] vs 2.27 [0.76] mL min−1 100 mL−1, P = 0.03), reduced MSNA in the AT-PLA group (39 [6] vs 34 [5] bursts/min, P = 0.01), and decreased HR in the AT-ET group (65 [8] vs 62 [7] beats/min, P = 0.01).

Conclusions AT reduces sympathetic nerve activity and improves muscle blood flow in healthy hysterectomized postmenopausal women. Moreover, AT decreases HR when combined with ET. However, ET abolishes the reducing effect of AT on MSNA.

From the 1Hypertension Unit, General Hospital, and 2Exercise Hemodynamic Laboratory, School of Physical Education and Sport, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; 3Center for Sport and Physical Education, State University of Londrina, Londrina, Brazil; and 4Gynecology and Climacteric Service, General Hospital, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Received March 31, 2013; revised and accepted May 22, 2013.

Funding/support: This work was supported by the Foundation for Research Support of São Paulo, Brazil (01/14989-7).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Bruna Oneda, PhD, Av. Paulista, 27, Jardim Esplanada, CEP 12242-470, São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil. E-mail:

© 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.