Muscle pump and central command during recovery from exercise in humans

Robert Carter, Donald E. Watenpaugh, Wendy L. Wasmund, Stephen L. Wasmund, Michael L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We sought to determine the relative contributions of cessation of skeletal muscle pumping and withdrawal of central command to the rapid decrease in arterial pressure during recovery from exercise. Twelve healthy volunteers underwent three exercise sessions, each consisting of a warm-up, 3 min of cycling at 60% of maximal heart rate, and 5 min of one of the following recovery modes: seated (inactive), loadless pedaling (active), and passive cycling. Mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac output, thoracic impedance, and heart rate were measured. When measured 15 s after exercise, MAP decreased less (P < 0.05) during the active (-3 ± 1 mmHg) and passive (- 6 ± 1 mmHg) recovery modes than during inactive (-18 ± 2 mmHg) recovery. These differences in MAP persisted for the first 4 min of recovery from exercise. Significant maintenance of central blood volume (thoracic impedance), stroke volume, and cardiac output paralleled the maintenance of MAP during active and passive conditions during 5 min of recovery. These data indicate that engaging the skeletal muscle pump by loadless or passive pedaling helps maintain MAP during recovery from submaximal exercise. The lack of differences between loadless and passive pedaling suggests that cessation of central command is not as important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1463-1469
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1999


  • Arterial blood pressure
  • Cardiac output
  • Heart rate
  • Peripheral resistance
  • Stroke volume


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