The physiological responses of amphibians and reptiles undergoing vigorous exercise are qualitatively similar to those of other vertebrates. Oxygen consumption increases rapidly to rates that are three- to 10-fold the rates at rest. The aerobic response to graded exercise in locomoting reptiles and amphibians is for the most part linear. Oxygen transport by the cardiovascular system during exercise is accomplished by factorial increases in heart rate and oxygen extraction from arterial blood in a fashion similar to that in mammals. Increments in stroke volume during exercise are small or in some cases negative. The influence of temperature or of intracardiac shunting on the cardiovascular function of active amphibians and reptiles is poorly understood. These aerobic responses to exercise are accompanied by robust anaerobic contributions to energy metabolism, resulting in significant lactate accumulation and glycogen depletion. The rate of lactate accumulation during exercise is generally greater in reptiles than in amphibians, but in all cases is so rapid that the only significant substrate source to support anaerobic energy production is muscle glycogen. Vigorous behavior in these animals is therefore limited to some degree by the maintenance and replenishment of muscle glycogen stores. Whereas data from rats and dogs suggest that most lactate is oxidized to CO2 following exercise, amphibians and reptiles appear to use lactate as a substrate for immediate muscle glycogen replenishment. Data from a variety of amphibians and lizards demonstrate that lactate removal following activity and glycogen replenishment are stoichiometrically and temporally related. Studies employing isotopically labelled compounds in intact frogs and lizards indicate that most lactate is resynthesized to glycogen during recovery. In vivo studies suggest skeletal muscle as the site for glycogenesis from lactate, and in vitro studies from many laboratories demonstrate a gluconeogenic capacity in skeletal muscle of lizards, frogs and salamanders. The liver appears to play no significant role in recovery metabolism in any of these classes. Data from lizard muscle suggest that oxidative fiber types have the most significant gluconeogenic capacity, and that the process may be stimulated by the hormonal milieu that exists following exercise. Whereas the recovery metabolism of many mammals seems to facilitate the rapid return of acid-base balance via lactate oxidation, the strategy of lactate removal employed by amphibians and reptiles provides for a mechanism of immediate muscle glycogen replenishment and consequently a reestablished capacity for subsequent activity.

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