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The effects of nasal breathing on exercise tolerance

Thomas, S A; Phillips, V; Mock, C; Lock, M; Cox, G; Baxter, J

The effects of nasal breathing on exercise tolerance Thumbnail


S A Thomas

V Phillips

C Mock

M Lock

G Cox

J Baxter


The importance of nasal breathing is well acknowledged due to its ‘defensive’ and ‘air conditioning’ roles. In theory nose breathing might protect the airways of patients with respiratory disease such as COPD or CF patients from frequent infections, and runners in polluted environments, however the feasibility of nose breathing during heavy exercise has not been fully explored.

This study investigated the effects of nasal breathing on exercise intensity using the incremental shuttle run to compare nasal and ‘normal’ breathing in terms of V02 peak achieved and to identify the intensity of exercise that could be achieved using nasal breathing without a face mask (that might influence the breathing route)in situ.
A within subject design was used whereby healthy participants completed an incremental shuttle run on two separate occasions, one week apart, one while breathing ‘normally’, the other while breathing with their mouth closed. The two conditions were applied in random order.
V02 peak was compared between the two runs using paired T tests and HR, Sa02 and ETCo2 and RR and RPE were measured before and immediately after the test, Particpants comment on limiting factors and their experience of participating in the tests.

12 healthy physiotherapy students aged between 21 and 27 (8 male and 4 female) completed both runs.
There was a significant difference in V02 peak between nasal and oronasal groups (p=.0039) Nasal breathing was continued to 85% of V02 peak achieved suggestive of potentially high training loads, indicating that people are capable of nose breathing at much higher intensities than they would normally chose to do.

These results suggesting a potential for nose breathing training interventions even with normal healthy individuals. Further research is needed to investigate the potential value of such training.


Thomas, S. A., Phillips, V., Mock, C., Lock, M., Cox, G., & Baxter, J. (2009, October). The effects of nasal breathing on exercise tolerance. Paper presented at Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Annual Congress 2009, Liverpool conference centre

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Annual Congress 2009
Conference Location Liverpool conference centre
Start Date Oct 16, 2009
End Date Oct 17, 2009
Publicly Available Date Jun 24, 2019
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords nasal breathing, oronasal breathing, mouth breathing, nose breathing, exercise testing
Public URL


Congress_speech_updated.doc (37 Kb)

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