• Airway pressure;
  • exercise;
  • cardiac output;
  • baroreflexes;
  • arterial pressure regulation


To investigate the effects of sustained positive-pressure breathing (PPB) on the adaptation of respiratory and circulatory functions to exercise, 8 healthy volunteers were exposed to PPB of air at 15 and 30 cm H2O in the supine position at rest and while performing leg exercise at 50% of individual maximal working capacity. PPB was both subjectively and objectively better tolerated when combined with exercise than it was at rest. PPB at 30 cm HaO resulted in marked hyperventilation with alkalosis in the resting condition, but did not significantly affect respiratory minute volume, blood gases or acid-base balance during exercise. Cardiac output and left ventricular work were reduced by about one fifth and one third, respectively, both at rest and during exercise. In contrast to the case at normal airway pressure, exercise-induced increase in cardiac output was accompanied by an increment in stroke volume during PPB. Although mean arterial pressure (relative to atmospheric) was elevated by PPB at rest and during exercise, the driving pressure in systemic circuits (arterial minus central venous pressure) was reduced in both conditions. It is concluded that dynamic exercise counteracts deleterious effects of PPB by normalizing respiratory function and by improving cardiac filling by activation of the leg muscle and the abdominal pumps.