We tested the hypothesis that the slower increase in alveolar oxygen uptake (VO2) at the onset of supine, compared with upright, exercise would be accompanied by a slower rate of increase in leg blood flow (LBF). Seven healthy subjects performed transitions from rest to 40-W knee extension exercise in the upright and supine positions. LBF was measured continuously with pulsed and echo Doppler methods, and VO2 was measured breath by breath at the mouth. At rest, a smaller diameter of the femoral artery in the supine position (P < 0. 05) was compensated by a greater mean blood flow velocity (MBV) (P < 0.05) so that LBF was not different in the two positions. At the end of 6 min of exercise, femoral artery diameter was larger in the upright position and there were no differences in VO2, MBV, or LBF between upright and supine positions. The rates of increase of VO2 and LBF in the transition between rest and 40 W exercise, as evaluated by the mean response time (time to 63% of the increase), were slower in the supine [VO2 = 39.7 +/- 3.8 (SE) s, LBF = 27.6 +/- 3.9 s] than in the upright positions (VO2 = 29.3 +/- 3.0 s, LBF = 17.3 +/- 4.0 s; P < 0.05). These data support our hypothesis that slower increases in alveolar VO2 at the onset of exercise in the supine position are accompanied by a slower increase in LBF.
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