Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2007
The purpose of the present study was to determine the time course and magnitude of changes in extracellular and intracellular fluid volumes in relation to changes in total body water during prolonged submaximal exercise and recovery in horses. Seven horses were physically conditioned over a 2-month period and trained to trot on a treadmill. Total body water (TBW), extracellular fluid volume (ECFV) and plasma volume (PV) were measured at rest using indicator dilution techniques (D2O, thiocyanate and Evans Blue, respectively). Changes in TBW were assessed from measures of body mass, and changes in PV and ECFV were calculated from changes in plasma protein concentration. Horses exercised by trotting on a treadmill for 75–120 min incurred a 4.2% decrease in TBW. During exercise, the entire decrease in TBW (mean±standard error: 12.8±2.0 l at end of exercise) could be attributed to the decrease in ECFV (12.0±2.4 l at end of exercise), such that there was no change in intracellular fluid volume (ICFV; 0.9±2.4 l at end of exercise). PV decreased from 22.0±0.5 l at rest to 19.8±0.3 l at end of exercise and remained depressed (18–19 l) during the first 2 h of recovery. Recovery of fluid volumes after exercise was slow, and characterized by a further transient loss of ECFV (first 30 min of recovery) and a sustained increase in ICFV (between 0.5 and 3.5 h of recovery). Recovery of fluid volumes was complete by 13 h post exercise. It is concluded that prolonged submaximal exercise in horses favours net loss of fluid from the extracellular fluid compartment.