Blood volume: its adaptation to endurance training

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 Dec;23(12):1338-48.


Expansion of blood volume (hypervolemia) has been well documented in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies as a consequence of endurance exercise training. Plasma volume expansion can account for nearly all of the exercise-induced hypervolemia up to 2-4 wk; after this time expansion may be distributed equally between plasma and red cell volumes. The exercise stimulus for hypervolemia has both thermal and nonthermal components that increase total circulating plasma levels of electrolytes and proteins. Although protein and fluid shifts from the extravascular to intravascular space may provide a mechanism for rapid hypervolemia immediately after exercise, evidence supports the notion that chronic hypervolemia associated with exercise training represents a net expansion of total body water and solutes. This net increase of body fluids with exercise training is associated with increased water intake and decreased urine volume output. The mechanism of reduced urine output appears to be increased renal tubular reabsorption of sodium through a more sensitive aldosterone action in man. Exercise training-induced hypervolemia appears to be universal among most animal species, although the mechanisms may be quite different. The hypervolemia may provide advantages of greater body fluid for heat dissipation and thermoregulatory stability as well as larger vascular volume and filling pressure for greater cardiac stroke volume and lower heart rates during exercise.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Volume / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*