Background: In chronic heart failure, exercise training results in an improvement in exercise capacity and a reduction in the ventilatory response to exercise. The effects of a physical training programme on the ventilatory response in healthy persons is not known.
Methods: Metabolic gas exchange and ventilation were measured in 27 young healthy persons aged 31.4 +/- 7.6 years before and after a 19-week training programme of aerobic exercise; exercise was undertaken three times a week for 40 min. Ventilation, the slope of the relationship between ventilation and carbon dioxide production (VE-VCO2 slope) and the ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide were measured using respiratory mass spectroscopy. The peak expiratory flow rate in 1 s and forced vital capacity were also measured.
Results: Mean +/- SEM peak oxygen consumption increased from 39.5 +/- 1.5 to 45.4 +/- 1.7 ml/kg/min(P<0.001). Exercise time increased from 817 +/- 188 to 896 +/- 186 s (P<0.001). The respiratory exchange ratio at peak exercise was slightly lower after training: 1.30 +/- 0.02 compared with 1.36 +/- 0.03 (P = 0.02). Ventilation at equivalent stages of exercise was unchanged by training. The VE-VCO2 slope did not change (24.52 +/- 0.67 before training, 25.01 +/- 0.80 after training; NS). There was no change in the ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide either at rest (38.6 +/- 1.4 compared with 36.2 +/- 1.1; NS) or at its lowest point (23.3 +/- 0.6 compared with 22.9 +/- 3.2; NS). Neither exercise capacity nor the training response correlated with any of the measured ventilatory variables.
Conclusion: In contrast to the situation in patients with chronic heart failure, there is no relationship between ventilatory variables and exercise capacity in healthy persons and no change in ventilatory performance as a result of physical training.