Whole body passive heating versus dynamic lower body exercise: A comparison of peripheral hemodynamic profiles

Sachin B. Amin, Alexander B. Hansen, Hendrik Mugele, Felix Willmer, Florian Gross, Benjamin Reimeir, William K. Cornwell, Lydia L. Simpson, Jonathan P. Moore, Steven A. Romero, Justin S. Lawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Passive heating has emerged as a therapeutic intervention for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Like exercise, heating increases peripheral artery blood flow and shear rate, which is thought to be a primary mechanism underpinning endothelium-mediated vascular adaptation. However, few studies have compared the increase in arterial blood flow and shear rate between dynamic exercise and passive heating. In a fixed crossover design study, 15 moderately trained healthy participants (25.6 ± 3.4 yr) (5 female) underwent 30 min of whole body passive heating (42°C bath), followed on a separate day by 30 min of semi-recumbent stepping exercise performed at two workloads corresponding to the increase in cardiac output (Qc) (D3.72 L min-1) and heart rate (HR) (D40 beats/min) recorded at the end of passive heating. At the same Qc (D3.72 L min-1 vs. 3.78 L min-1), femoral artery blood flow (1,599 mL/min vs. 1,947 mL/min) (P = 0.596) and shear rate (162 s-1 vs. 192 s-1) (P = 0.471) measured by ultrasonography were similar between passive heating and stepping exercise. However, for the same HRMATCHED intensity, femoral blood flow (1,599 mL min-1 vs. 2,588 mL min-1) and shear rate (161 s-1 vs. 271 s-1) were significantly greater during exercise, compared with heating (both P = <0.001). The results indicate that, for moderately trained individuals, passive heating increases common femoral artery blood flow and shear rate similar to low-intensity continuous dynamic exercise (29% V O2max); however, exercise performed at a higher intensity (53% V O2max) results in significantly larger shear rates toward the active skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-171
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Dynamic exercise
  • Leg blood flow
  • Passive heating
  • Shear rate
  • Ultrasound


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