Abstract Aim: The contributions of cardiac output (CO) and total peripheral resistance to changes in arterial blood pressure are debated and differ between dynamic and static exercise. We studied the role stroke volume (SV) has in mild supine exercise. Methods: We investigated 10 healthy, supine volunteers by continuous measurement of heart rate (HR), mean arterial blood pressure, SV (ultrasound Doppler) and femoral beat volume (ultrasound Doppler) during both dynamic mild leg exercise and static forearm exercise. This made it possible to study CO, femoral flow (FF) and both total and femoral peripheral resistance beat-by-beat. Results: During a countdown period immediately prior to exercise, HR and mean arterial pressure increased, while SV decreased. During mild supine exercise, SV decreased by 5–8%, and most of this was explained by increased mean arterial pressure. Dynamic leg exercise doubled femoral beat volume, while static hand grip decreased femoral beat volume by 18%. FF is tightly regulated according to metabolic demand during both dynamic leg exercise and static forearm exercise. Conclusion: Our three major findings are, firstly, that SV decreases during both dynamic and static mild supine exercise due to an increase in mean arterial pressure. Secondly, femoral beat volume decreases during static hand grip, but FF is unchanged due to the increase in HR. Finally, anticipatory responses to exercise are apparent prior to both dynamic and static exercise. SV changes contribute to CO changes and should be included in studies of central haemodynamics during exercise.