C. O’Connor, C. Epperson, B. Lindsay, J. Koon, D. McCann

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

Substitution of helium for the nitrogen in room air is known as a heliox mixture and significantly lowers the density of air and the work of breathing in comparison to normal room air. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine if inhalation of an 80/20 heliox gas during the 30 s of a Wingate test affects pulmonary ventilation , peak power (PP), average power (AP) and the fatigue index (FI). METHODS: Six male and six female subjects (21.0 ± 0.71 yr) participated in this single-blind study. Subjects performed two Wingate tests in a single-blind randomized and balanced design under two conditions, once breathing room air and once breathing an 80/20 percentage of helium and oxygen, respectively. PP, AP, FI, , tidal volume (TV) and breathing frequency (RR) were measured continuously before, during and after the Wingate tests. The subjects breathed from a weather balloon full of the appropriate gas during only during the 30 s test. A mass of 7.5 % of the individual’s body weight was used to provide the pedal resistance during the test. Ventilatory responses were measured using a commercially available metabolic system. RESULTS: Paired t-tests indicated there were no significant differences between the two conditions for PP (mean difference ±SE= 8.6±15.5 W, p= 0.59), AP (mean difference ±SE= 9.6±8.0 W,p= 0.26), or FI (mean difference ±SE= 4.5±3.0 %, p= 0.17). Additionally, , TV, and RR all increased linearly throughout the 30 s Wingate test for both conditions in a remarkably similar pattern of equal magnitude. CONCLUSION: Breathing a low density heliox gas mixture does not affect the ventilatory response anaerobic performance during short-term intense exercise.

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