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STUDY REVIEW: Role of the nasal airway in regulation of airway resistance during hypercapnia and exercise

Study reviewed by XPT Assistant Performance Director, Mark Roberts

Original Study:

In this study they look at the relationship between nasal resistance and A) hypercapnia (describes a higher presence of CO2 in the body) B) exercise. Showing a linear decrease in nasal airway resistance as both exercise and CO2 levels increase. What this means is that respiratory efficiency increases as the demand increases as well as decreasing the amount of work the overall respiratory system has to do at high ventilation rates.

The researchers took 10 healthy volunteers, using a posterior mask rhinomanometry to measure the subsequent resistance in the following tests,  EXERCISE – volunteers peddled on a stationary bike at 3 varied loads. HYPERCAPNIA – this was measured by supplying 3 different O2/CO2 mixtures, those being; 5% CO2, 6% CO2 and 8% CO2. resistance was measured during the expiratory breath only due to a potential for nasal collapse/flare during inspiration

What can we take away?

  1. Adding a small amount of resistance to the breath increased work rate by 50%! Increasing tidal volume, inspiratory duration and decreased respiratory frequency. Best way we can add resistance to the respiratory system is through nasal breathing
  2. If we spend most of our time nasal breathing we can regulate not only our breathing mechanics (breathing to match metabolic demand) so we are not over breathing, (This being were we talk about maintaining higher levels of CO2 in the blood to become more efficient at dropping oxygen off to cells and tissues) but also stimulation of the parasympathetic nerve
  3. If we stay patient and work on becoming a competent nose breather, our athletic capacity can be improved greatly. Just imagine being in a position were increased cardiopulmonary output can be made more efficient and less energy consuming!  Leaving us with an overdrive gear where others are maxed out.

Read the original study: HERE

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