Effect of Nasal Versus Oral Breathing on Vo2max and Physiological Economy in Recreational Runners Following an Extended Period Spent Using Nasally Restricted Breathing

George M. Dallam, Steve R. McClaran, Daniel G. Cox, Carol P. Foust


Background: In subjects who do not practice nasally restricted breathing, peak oxygen uptake (VO2max) and time to exhaustion in a graded exercise protocol (GXT TE) are impaired while breathing nasally versus orally. Objective: This study investigated the effect of oral versus nasal breathing on VO2max, GXT TE and physiological economy (PE) in subjects who had previously self-selected a nasal only breathing approach during training and racing. Methods: A mixed gender sample (N=10, 5 male and 5 female) of nasal breathing recreational runner’s completed a maximal GXT and high level steady state trial at 85% of their maximal GXT running velocity (SS85) in both nasally and orally restricted breathing conditions. Results: In the GXT trials the subjects exhibited no significant mean difference in GXT TE, VO2max or peak lactate. However, in the nasally restricted breathing condition they demonstrated a significantly lower mean ventilatory equivalent for both oxygen (VE/VO2) (p = 0.002), and carbon dioxide (VE/VCO2) (p = 0.043) at VO2max with large effect sizes. During the SS85 trials the subjects exhibited a significantly better PE (P = 0.05) and no significant difference in lactate production, as well as a significantly lower mean VE/VO2 (p = 0.002) and VE/VCO2 (p = 0.002) with large effect sizes. Conclusion: This study supports the ability of recreational runners to utilize a nasally restricted breathing pattern at all levels of running intensity without loss in VO2max or GXT TE, and with superior PE and VE/VO2, following an extended training period using this practice.


Lactate, Bronchoconstriction, Ventilatory, Efficiency, Oropharynx, Nasopharynx

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