The study of VO2 kinetics offers the potential to non-invasively examine the cardiorespiratory and metabolic response to dynamic exercise and limitations to every day physical activity. Its non-invasive nature makes it hugely attractive for use with young people, both healthy and those with disease, and yet the literature, whilst growing with respect to adults, remains confined to a cluster of studies with these special populations. It is most likely that this is partly due to the methodological difficulties involved in studying VO2 kinetics in young people which are not present, or present to a lesser degree, with adults. This article reviews these methodological issues, and explains the main procedures that might be used to overcome them. Key pointsThe VO2 kinetic response to exercise represents the combined efficiency of the cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic systems, and an accurate assessment of the response potentially provides a great deal of useful information via non-invasive methodology.An accurate assessment of the VO2 kinetic response is however inherently difficult with children and especially those with reduced exercise tolerance, due primarily to the apparent breath-by-breath noise which masks the true underlying physiological response, and the small amplitudes of the response signal.Despite this, it is possible to assess and quantify the VO2 kinetic response with children if appropriate steps are taken to apply carefully selected methodologies and report response variables with confidence intervals. In this way, both the researcher and the reader can be confident that the data reported is meaningful.
Keywords: Children; methodology; oxygen kinetics.