Importance of hemoglobin concentration to exercise: acute manipulations

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2006 Apr 28;151(2-3):132-40. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2006.01.014. Epub 2006 Mar 3.


An acute reduction of blood hemoglobin concentration ([Hb]), even when the circulating blood volume is maintained, results in lower (.)V(O(2)(max) and endurance performance, due to the reduction of the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. Conversely, an increase of [Hb] is associated with enhanced (.)V(O(2)(max) and endurance capacity, that is also proportional to the increase in the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. The effects on endurance capacity appear more pronounced and prolonged than on (.)V(O(2)(max). During submaximal exercise, there is a tight coupling between O(2) demand and O(2) delivery, such that if [Hb] is acutely decreased muscle blood flow is increased proportionally and vice versa. During maximal exercise with either a small or a large muscle mass, neither peak cardiac output nor peak leg blood flow are affected by reduced [Hb]. An acute increase of [Hb] has no effect on maximal exercise capacity or (.)V(O(2)(max) during exercise in acute hypoxia. Likewise, reducing [Hb] in altitude-acclimatized humans to pre-acclimatization values has no effect on (.)V(O(2)(max) during exercise in hypoxia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Altitude
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology


  • Hemoglobins