Supine cycling plus volume loading prevent cardiovascular deconditioning during bed rest

Shigeki Shibata, Merja Perhonen, Benjamin D. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


There are two possible mechanisms contributing to the excessive fall of stroke volume (and its contribution to orthostatic intolerance) in the upright position after bed rest or spaceflight: reduced cardiac filling due to hypovolemia and/or a less distensible heart due to cardiac atrophy. We hypothesized that preservation of cardiac mechanical function by exercise training, plus normalization of cardiac filling with volume infusion, would prevent orthostatic intolerance after bed rest. Eighteen men and three women were assigned to 1) exercise countermeasure (n = 14) and 2) no exercise countermeasure (n = 7) groups during bed rest. Bed rest occurred in the 6° head-down tilt position for 18 days. The exercise regimen was prescribed to compensate for the estimated cardiac work reduction between bed rest and ambulatory periods. At the end of bed rest, the subjects were further divided into two additional groups for post-bed rest testing: 1) volume loading with intravenous dextran to normalize cardiac filling pressure and 2) no volume loading. Dextran infusion was given to half of the exercise group and all of the sedentary group after bed rest, leading ultimately to three groups: 1) exercise plus volume infusion; 2) exercise alone; and 3) volume infusion alone. Exercise training alone preserved left ventricular mass and distensibility as well as upright exercise capacity, but lower body negative pressure (LBNP) tolerance was still depressed. LBNP tolerance was maintained only when exercise training was accompanied by dextran infusion. Dextran infusion alone following bed rest without exercise maintained neither orthostatic tolerance nor upright exercise capacity. We conclude that daily supine cycle exercise sufficient to prevent cardiac atrophy can prevent orthostatic intolerance after bed rest only when combined with plasma volume restoration. This maintenance of orthostatic tolerance was achieved by neither exercise nor dextran infusion alone. Cardiac atrophy and hypovolemia are likely to contribute independently to orthostatic intolerance after bed rest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1186
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Bed rest deconditioning
  • Cardiac function
  • Exercise
  • Orthostatic tolerance
  • Volume infusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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