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Deconditioning and Reconditioning: Humans in Stressful EnvironmentsDeconditioning is an integrated physiological response of the body to a reduction in metabolic rate; that is, to a reduction in energy use or in exercise level. While it may involve assumption of a horizontal body position, it certainly perturbs bodily homeostasis - at least temporarily. The reduction in physical activity that causes deconditioning is often associated with an increase in the time spent, for whatever reason, in a sitting or horizontal position. As a result, orthostatic factors may also contribute to the deconditioning mechanism. The word decondition may be defined as "1: to cause extinction of (a conditioned response) 2: to cause to lose physical fitness". This definition implies that psychological/emotional factors may accompany physical deconditioning, and it is this interpretation of the word that is used throughout this volume. It is apparent that deconditioning plays a major role in the mechanism of the general adaptive (homeostatic) response that is initiated by exposure to prolonged bed rest (BR). And the total homeostatic response to BR involves more than deconditioning per se. For example, it has been shown that the restoration of plasma volume and maximal work capacity after 4 weeks of BR deconditioning left other bodily functions (submaximal exercise oxygen uptake and cardiac output, leg proprioception and posterior leg muscle thickness and volume, head-up tilt tolerance, and sleep quality) functioning at decreased levels. The precise effect of deconditioning on BR homeostasis is difficult to determine, because the fundamental interactive neuro-endocrine-immune control networks that facilitate conditioning and deconditioning also act to maintain basic wholebody homeostasis. For example, is the mechanism of BR-induced deconditioning independent of the mechanism that provokes concomitant orthostatic intolerance; that is, fainting? Assumption of the recumbent body position for prolonged periods of time, results in a new adaptive-homeostatic state. This state occurs in response to the mutually interactive effects of the change in bodily position (hydrostatic pressure), to the virtual elimination of longitudinal pressure on the bones, to the increased confinement with possible reduction in total daily energy (exercise) expenditure, to the reorientation of stimuli within the vestibular organs, and (often) to altered socio-psychological conditions. The exercise-training (reconditioning) syndrome affects total body homeostasis by facilitating increases in work capacity and endurance, whereas deconditioning decreases physical performance. There are many interrelated factors that influence the control parameters that seek to maintain the adaptive conditioning-deconditioning syndrome. These control parameters can be better elucidated by subjecting otherwise healthy ambulatory people to various stresses, such as exercise training and prolonged spaceflight, bed rest, water immersion, hyperbaria, and isolation and confinement. Changes in control parameters will be manifested in muscle function, orthostatic tolerance, cardiorespiratory responses, musculo-skeletal systems, free-radical processes, and body thermoregulation with overarching effects on the subjects' psycho-sociological states. A discussion of these factors and the control parameters constitutes the substance of this volume. Special emphasis is placed on delineating practical applications of the findings that will be of special interest to physicians, nurses, and other health-care workers.
Document ID
Document Type
Other - Collected Works
Greenleaf, John E.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Dalton, Bonnie
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
January 10, 2000
Publication Information
Publisher: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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