Gentle exercise with a previously inactive muscle group hastens the decline of blood lactate concentration after strenuous exercise

  • P. McLoughlin
  • N. McCaffrey
  • J. B. Moynihan


The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanism by which the disappearance of blood lactate following severe exercise is enhanced during active recovery in comparison with recovery at rest. Rates of decline of arterialised venous blood lactate concentrations in man after maximal one-leg exercise were compared during four different modes of recovery: passive (PR), exercise of the muscles involved in the initial exercise (SL), exercise of the corresponding muscles in the hitherto-inactive leg (OL), or exercise of one arm (RA). Recovery exercise workloads were each 40% of the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) for the limb used. In comparison with PR, SL and OL accelerated the fall in blood lactate to similar extents whereas RA was without effect. The first-order rate constant (min−1) for decline of arterialised venous blood lactate concentration after the intense exercise was 0.027 (0.003) in PR, 0.058 (0.025) in SL, 0.034 (0.002) in OL, and in RA was 0.028 (0.002) [mean (SEM),n = 6 subjects]. Preliminary studies had shown that RA in isolation elevated blood lactate whereas SL and OL did not. Thus, with appropriate workloads, exercise of either hitherto active or passive muscles enhanced blood lactate decline during recovery from intense exercise. This suggests that the effect resulted principally from the uptake and utilisation of lactate in the circulation by those exercising muscles rather than from increased transport of lactate to other sites of clearance by sustained high blood flow through the previously active muscles.

Key words

Recovery exercise Cycle ergometer Blood lactate concentration 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. McLoughlin
    • 1
  • N. McCaffrey
    • 1
  • J. B. Moynihan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyFaculty of Medicine, University College DublinDublin 2Ireland

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