Guidelines for animal exercise and training protocols for cardiovascular studies

David C. Poole, Steven W. Copp, Trenton D. Colburn, Jesse C. Craig, David L. Allen, Michael Sturek, Donal S. O’Leary, Irving H. Zucker, Timothy I. Musch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Poole DC, Copp SW, Colburn TD, Craig JC, Allen DL, Sturek M, O’Leary DS, Zucker IH, Musch TI. Guidelines for animal exercise and training protocols for cardiovascular studies. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 318: H1100 –H1138, 2020. First published March 20, 2020; doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00697.2019.—Whole body exercise tolerance is the consummate example of integrative physiological function among the metabolic, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Depending on the animal selected, the energetic demands and flux through the oxygen transport system can increase two orders of magnitude from rest to maximal exercise. Thus, animal models in health and disease present the scientist with flexible, powerful, and, in some instances, purpose-built tools to explore the mechanistic bases for physiological function and help unveil the causes for pathological or age-related exercise intolerance. Elegant experimental designs and analyses of kinetic parameters and steady-state responses permit acute and chronic exercise paradigms to identify therapeutic targets for drug development in disease and also present the opportunity to test the efficacy of pharmacological and behavioral countermeasures during aging, for example. However, for this promise to be fully realized, the correct or optimal animal model must be selected in conjunction with reproducible tests of physiological function (e.g., exercise capacity and maximal oxygen uptake) that can be compared equitably across laboratories, clinics, and other proving grounds. Rigorously controlled animal exercise and training studies constitute the foundation of translational research. This review presents the most commonly selected animal models with guidelines for their use and obtaining reproducible results and, crucially, translates state-of-the-art techniques and procedures developed on humans to those animal models. Listen to this article’s corresponding podcast at:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1100-H1138
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Critical speed
  • Exercise tolerance
  • Exhaustion
  • Maximal oxygen uptake
  • Oxygen transport system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Guidelines for animal exercise and training protocols for cardiovascular studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this