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Peripheral Resistance During Exercise

By Timothy Onkst

Peripheral resistance refers to the resistance of blood vessels to the flow of blood. According to San Diego State University, when you are resting little blood is delivered to non-working muscles because of arteriole constriction. However, when muscles become active during exercise more blood is able to pass due to the arterioles dilating. This opening and closing or peripheral resistance changes slightly with the type and intensity of exercise.

  1. Perform rhythmic aerobic exercise such as running to decrease peripheral resistance, according to San Diego State University.This happens because the arterioles serving the muscle at work dilate to increase blood flow to the muscles. According to the University of Washington, blood flow can increase up to 20 times as a muscle exercises.

  2. Perform slower anaerobic exercises like weight lifting to increase peripheral resistance. According to San Diego State University, when muscles contract they slow or stop blood flow through the tissues until they are relaxed again. Therefore during the contraction period which is much more pronounced in anaerobic exercise peripheral resistance increases.

  3. Perform a long, sustained contraction exercise like an isometric exercise to experience the highest peripheral resistance. For example, an isometric exercise like bridging requires you to hold a position with muscles contracted for up to a minute. During this contraction period, peripheral resistance is very high because the contraction slows down and almost stops blood flow to the muscles at work.

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