Aging reduces capillary growth in muscle in postmenopausal women

October 1, 2020

Postmenopausal woman unfortunately have significantly reduced ability for angiogenesis – the formation of tiny blood vessels, or capillaries – in skeletal muscle tissue, compared to younger, premenopausal women. These women were also unable to increase the number of capillaries after a period of aerobic exercise, according to a study at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (UCPH-NEXS), Denmark.

However, after eight-weeks of exercise, three times weekly, in the form of spinning on stationary bikes, the overall fitness of the postmenopausal women improved by 15%.

Capillaries are essential for the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells and are needed for absorbing sugar and fat into muscles. The loss of capillaries will affect said processes and can even contribute to the development of type-2 diabetes.

Postgraduate student Line Norregaard Olsen from UCPH-NEXS thinks that the lack of new capillary growth in postmenopausal women is most likely due to the permanent loss of estrogen after menopause. “Even though eight weeks of training of the postmenopausal women has a noteworthy effect on some parameters, it had no effect on capillary formation in muscle. A sufficient number of capillaries in muscle is important for muscle function and reduces the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.”

Olsen suggests women be physically active prior to menopause, while their estrogen levels are high so as to have a better physical starting point as they enter menopause.

This is echoed by Professor Ylva Hellsten, also of UCPH-NEXS, who further explains both men and women benefit from being physically active throughout life, regardless of their age. “The current study suggests that there are some crucial differences between men and women in the way that the cardiovascular system is affected by aging and physical activity. As a result, this study should lead to an adjustment of the training recommendations for women in this age group.”


Category: Education, Features

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