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Endurance and Resistance Respiratory Muscle Training and Aerobic Exercise Performance in Hypobaric Hypoxia

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INTRODUCTION: Hypoxia-induced hyperventilation is an effect of acute altitude exposure, which may lead to respiratory muscle fatigue and secondary locomotor muscle fatigue. The purpose of this study was to determine if resistive and/or endurance respiratory muscle training (RRMT and ERMT, respectively) vs. placebo respiratory muscle training (PRMT) improve cycling performance at altitude.

METHODS: There were 24 subjects who were assigned to PRMT (N 8), RRMT (N 8), or ERMT (N 8). Subjects cycled to exhaustion in a hypobaric chamber decompressed to 3657 m (12,000 ft) at an intensity of 55% sea level maximal oxygen consumption (Vo2max) before and after respiratory muscle training (RMT). Additionally, subjects completed a Vo2max, pulmonary function, and respiratory endurance test (RET) before and after RMT. All RMT protocols consisted of three 30-min training sessions per week for 4 wk.

RESULTS: The RRMT group increased maximum inspiratory (PImax) and expiratory (PEmax) mouth pressure after RMT (PImax: 117.7 11.6 vs. 162.6 20.0; PEmax: 164.0 33.2 vs. 216.5 44.1 cmH2O). The ERMT group increased RET after RMT (5.2 5.2 vs.18.6 16.9 min). RMT did not improve Vo2max in any group. Both RRMT and ERMT groups increased cycling time to exhaustion (RRMT: 35.9 17.2 vs. 45.6 22.2 min and ERMT: 33.8 9.6 vs. 42.9 27.0 min).

CONCLUSION: Despite different improvements in pulmonary function, 4 wk of RRMT and ERMT both improved cycle time to exhaustion at altitude.

Wheelock CE, Hess HW, Johnson BD, Schlader ZJ, Clemency BM, St. James E, Hostler D. Endurance and resistance respiratory muscle training and aerobic exercise performance in hypobaric hypoxia. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2020; 91(10):776784.
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Keywords: altitude; hypoxia; performance; respiratory muscle training

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2020

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  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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