Rapid increases in ventilation accompany the transition from passive to active movement

Harold J. Bell, James Duffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We used a novel movement transition technique to look for evidence of a rapid onset drive to breathe related to the active component of exercise in humans. Ten volunteers performed the following transitions in a specially designed tandem exercise chair apparatus: rest to passive movement, passive to active movement, and rest to active movement. The transition from rest to active exercise was accompanied by an immediate increase in ventilation, as was the transition from rest to passive leg movement (Δ = 6.06 ± 1.09 l min-1, p < 0.001 and Δ = 3.30 ± 0.57 l min-1, p = 0.002, respectively). When subjects actively assumed the leg movements, ventilation again increased immediately and significantly (Δ = 2.55 ± 0.52 l min-1, p = 0.032). Ventilation at the first point of active exercise was the same when started either from rest or from a background of passive leg movement (p = 1.00). We conclude that the use of a transition from passive to active leg movements in humans recruits a ventilatory drive related to the active component of exercise, and this can be discerned as a rapid increase in breathing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-142
Number of pages15
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Passive movements
  • Ventilation


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