Oxygen cost of exercise hyperpnea: implications for performance

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1992 May;72(5):1818-25. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1992.72.5.1818.


We addressed two questions concerned with the metabolic cost and performance of respiratory muscles in healthy young subjects during exercise: 1) does exercise hyperpnea ever attain a "critical useful level"? and 2) is the work of breathing (WV) at maximum O2 uptake (VO2max) fatiguing to the respiratory muscles? During progressive exercise to maximum, we measured tidal expiratory flow-volume and transpulmonary pressure- (Ptp) volume loops. At rest, subjects mimicked their maximum and moderate exercise Ptp-volume loops, and we measured the O2 cost of the hyperpnea (VO2RM) and the length of time subjects could maintain reproduction of their maximum exercise loop. At maximum exercise, the O2 cost of ventilation (VE) averaged 10 +/- 0.7% of the VO2max. In subjects who used most of their maximum reserve for expiratory flow and for inspiratory muscle pressure development during maximum exercise, the VO2RM required 13-15% of VO2max. The O2 cost of increasing VE from one work rate to the next rose from 8% of the increase in total body VO2 (VO2T) during moderate exercise to 39 +/- 10% in the transition from heavy to maximum exercise; but in only one case of extreme hyperventilation, combined with a plateauing of the VO2T, did the increase in VO2RM equal the increase in VO2T. All subjects were able to voluntarily mimic maximum exercise WV for 3-10 times longer than the duration of the maximum exercise. We conclude that the O2 cost of exercise hyperpnea is a significant fraction of the total VO2max but is not sufficient to cause a critical level of "useful" hyperpnea to be achieved in healthy subjects.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Respiration / physiology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology
  • Tidal Volume / physiology
  • Work of Breathing / physiology