The role of active muscle mass on exercise-induced cardiovascular drift

Stylianos N. Kounalakis, George P. Nassis, Maria D. Koskolou, Nickos D. Geladas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to examine the role of active muscle mass on cardiovascular drift (CVdrift) during prolonged exercise. Twelve subjects with peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) of 3.52±0.52 L·min-1 (mean ± SD) cycled for 55 min with 80 revolutions per minute with either two legs (2-legged) or one leg (1-legged). Oxygen uptake was at 60% of VO2peak throughout the 2-legged trial and at half of this value in 1-legged condition. Cardiac output (CO-CO2 rebreathing), heart rate (HR) and quadriceps integrated electromyographic activity (iEMG) were higher (p < 0.01) during 2-legged than 1-legged exercise. Changes in stroke volume from 20 to 50 min of exercise were greater in 2-legged than in 1-legged (ΔSV: -20.8±0.8 vs. -13.3 ± 1.3 ml·beat-1, p < 0.05). Similarly, changes in heart rate (ΔHR) were +18.5 ± 0.8 and +10.7 ± 1.0 beats·min -1, in 2-legged and 1-legged, respectively (p < 0.01). Calculated blood volume changes declined significantly in 2-legged exercise (ΔBV: -4.25 ± 0.43%, p < 0.05). Sympathetic activation as indicated by the ratio of low and high frequency in spectral analysis of HR (LF·HF -1 ratio) was higher in 2-legged than in 1-legged trial (p < 0.05). At the end of exercise, CO had a tendency to decrease from 20 th min in 2-legged (changes in CO = -0.92 ± 0.3 L·min-1, p = 0.07), whereas it was maintained in 1-legged cycling (ΔCO = -0.15 ± 0.2 L·min-1, p = 0.86). Multiple regression analysis showed that HR rise and blood volume decline were predictors of SV drop whereas heart rate increase was explained by rectal temperature and magnitude of muscle mass activation, as indicated by iEMG (p < 0.05) in 2-legged cycling. In conclusion, apart from the well-known factors of thermal status and blood volume decline, it seems that muscle mass involved plays also a role on the development of CVdrift.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-401
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sports Science and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular regulation
  • Prolonged cycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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