Cardiorespiratory Responses to Physical Work During and Following 17 Days of Bed Rest and Spaceflight

Document Type




Format of Original

7 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

Journal of Applied Physiology

Source ISSN



To determine the influence of a 17-day exposure to real and simulated spaceflight (SF) on cardiorespiratory function during exercise, four male crewmembers of the STS-78 space shuttle flight and eight male volunteers were studied before, during, and after the 17-day mission and 17 days of -6° head-down-tilt bed rest (BR), respectively. Measurements of oxygen uptake, pulmonary ventilation, and heart rate were made during submaximal cycling 60, 30, and 15 days before the SF liftoff and 12 and 7 days before BR; on SF days 2, 8, and 13 and on BR days 2, 8, and 13; and on days 1, 4, 5, and 8 after return to Earth and on days 3 and 7 after BR. During 15 days before liftoff, day 4 after return, and day 8 after return and all BR testing, each subject completed a continuous exercise test to volitional exhaustion on a semirecumbent (SF) or supine (BR) cycle ergometer to determine the submaximal and maximal cardiorespiratory responses to exercise. The remaining days of the SF testing were limited to a workload corresponding to 85% of the peak pre-SF peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak) workload. Exposure to and recovery from SF and BR induced similar responses to submaximal exercise at 150 W. VO2 peak decreased by 10.4% from pre-SF (15 days before liftoff) to day 4 after return and 6.6% from pre-BR to day 3 after return, which was partially (SF: -5.2%) or fully (BR) restored within 1 wk of recovery. Workload corresponding to 85% of the peak pre-SF VO2 peak showed a rapid and continued decline throughout the flight (SF day 2, 6.2%; SF day 8, 9.0%), reaching a nadir of 11.3% during testing on SF day 13. During BR, VO2 peak also showed a decline from pre-BR (BR day 2, -7.3%; BR day 8, -7.1%; BR day 13, -9.0%). These results suggest that the onset of and recovery from real and simulated microgravity-induced cardiorespiratory deconditioning is relatively rapid, and head-down-tilt BR appears to be an appropriate model of this effect, both during and after SF.


Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 100, No. 3 (March 2006): 951-957. DOI.