Oral versus Nasal Breathing during Moderate to High Intensity Submaximal Aerobic Exercise

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International Journal of Kinesiology & sports Science






When comparing oral breathing versus nasal breathing, a greater volume of air can be transported through the oral passageway but nasal breathing may also have benefits at submaximal exercise intensities. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine breathing efficiency during increasing levels of submaximal aerobic exercise. Methods: Nineteen individuals (males N=9, females N=10) completed a test for maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and on separate days 4-min treadmill runs at increasing submaximal intensities (50%, 65%, and 80% of VO2max) under conditions of oral breathing or nasal breathing. Respiratory (respiration rate [RR], pulmonary ventilation [VE]), metabolic (oxygen consumption [VO2], carbon dioxide production [VCO2]) and efficiency measures (ventilatory equivalents for oxygen [Veq×O2-1] and carbon dioxide [Veq×CO2-1] were obtained. Data were analyzed utilizing a 2 (sex) x 2 (condition) x3 (intensity) repeated measures ANOVA with significance accepted at p≤0.05. Results: Significant interactions existed between breathing mode and intensity such that oral breathing resulted in greater RR, VE, VO2, and VCO2 at all three submaximal intensities (p<.05). Veq×O2-1 and Veq×CO2-1 presented findings that nasal breathing was more efficient than oral breathing during the 65% and 80% VO2max intensities (p<0.05). Conclusion: Based on this analysis, oral breathing provides greater respiratory and metabolic volumes during moderate and moderate-to-high submaximal exercise intensities, but may not translate to greater respiratory efficiency. However when all variables are considered together, it is likely that oral breathing represents the more efficient mode, particularly at higher exercise intensities.


Respiratory physiological processes, Musculoskeletal physiological phenomena, Running



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