Triathlete Adapts to Breathing Restricted to the Nasal Passage Without loss in VO2max or vVO2max

Karen Hostetter, Steven R Steven R. McClaran, Daniel G Cox, George M Dallam


This case study investigated the effect of restricting breathing to the nasopharynx versus the oropharynx on the ability to perform maximal and high level steady state running in a highly trained triathlete who previously adapted himself to nasal only breathing during exercise as a means of inhibiting exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB).      The subject was tested using a maximal graded treadmill protocol (GXT) to voluntary exhaustion followed 10 minutes later by a 6 minute steady state treadmill protocol (SS) at 85% of the previously achieved maximal velocity in both breathing conditions.  Oxygen uptake was measured via indirect calorimetry and 1 second forced expiratory volumes (FEV1) were measured with spirometry.    In the GXT trials the subject produced a time to exhaustion (TE) of 6:24,  a maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) of 3.92 L/min. and a velocity at VO2max (VVO2max) of 9.7 mph while breathing only through the nasopharynx (NB).   While breathing  only through the oropharynx (OB) he produced a  TE of 6:15,  a VO2max of 3.80 L/min. and a VVO2max of 9.7 mph..  During the 6 minute SS trials running at 8.0 mph, his mean oxygen consumption was 4.16 L/min. in NB and 3.99 L/min. in OB.  The subject experienced a 17% reduction in FEV1 (Pre = 5.03 L/sec., Post = 4.17 L/sec.) following the OB GXT not seen following the NB GXT.   This case study confirms the ability of a highly trained competitive triathlete to adapt to breathing restricted to the nasopharynx during running at both a maximal effort and a subsequent high level steady state effort without a loss in performance or peak aerobic capacity, as a means of inhibiting EIB. 


nasal breathing, running, VO2max, VVO2max, exercise-induced bronchospasm, oxygen consumption, triathlete

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