Intermittent hypoxia improves endurance performance and submaximal exercise efficiency

High Alt Med Biol. Fall 2003;4(3):291-304. doi: 10.1089/152702903769192250.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to elucidate the influence of intermittent hypobaric hypoxia at rest on endurance performance and cardiorespiratory and hematological adaptations in trained endurance athletes. Twelve trained male endurance runners were assigned to either a hypoxic group (n = 6) or a control group (n = 6). The subjects in the hypoxic group were exposed to a simulated altitude of 4500 m for 90 min, three times a week for 3 weeks. The measurements of 3000 m running time, running time to exhaustion, and cardiorespiratory parameters during maximal exercise test and resting hematological status were performed before (Pre) and after 3 weeks of intermittent hypoxic exposure (Post). These measurements were repeated after the cessation of intermittent hypoxia for 3 weeks (Re). In the control group, the same parameters were determined at Pre, Post, and Re for the subjects not exposed to intermittent hypoxia. The athletes in both groups continued their normal training together at sea level throughout the experiment. In the hypoxic group, the 3000 m running time and running time to exhaustion during maximal exercise test improved. Neither cardiorespiratory parameters to maximal exercise nor resting hematological parameters were changed in either group at Post, whereas oxygen uptake (.V(O2)) during submaximal exercise decreased significantly in the hypoxic group. After cessation of intermittent hypoxia for 3 weeks, the improved 3000 m running time and running time to exhaustion tended to decline, and the decreased .V(O2) during submaximal exercise returned to Pre level. These results suggest that intermittent hypoxia at rest could improve endurance performance and submaximal exercise efficiency at sea level in trained endurance athletes, but these improvements are not maintained after the cessation of intermittent hypoxia for 3 weeks.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / blood
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Rest / physiology*
  • Running / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis*