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Incremental exercise test performance with and without a respiratory gas collection system

James R. Clark


Objective. Despite their widespread use in exercise testing, few data are available on the effect of wearing respiratory gas collection (RGC) systems on exercise test performance. Industrial- type mask wear is thought to impair exercise performance through increased respiratory dead space, flow resistance and/or discomfort when compared with RGC facemasks, but whether performance decrements exist for RGC facemask wear versus non-wear is unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the difference in incremental exercise test performance with and without a RGC system.

Design. Twenty moderately active males (age 21.0 ± 1.9 years; VO2peak 55.9 ± 3.0 ml∙kg-1∙min-1) performed two progressive treadmill tests to volitional exhaustion. In random order subjects ran with (MASK) or without (NO-MASK) a RGC facemask and flow sensor connected to a gas analyzer. Descriptive data (mean ± SD) were determined for all parameters. The Wilcoxon signed rank test for paired differences was used to assess mean differences between MASK and NO-MASK conditions.

Results. Exercise time to exhaustion, peak treadmill speed, peak blood lactate concentration, peak heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were not different (p>0.05) between MASK and NO-MASK conditions.

Conclusions. Incremental exercise test performance is not adversely affected by RGC and analysis equipment, at least in short duration progressive treadmill exercise. Respiratory gas analysis during exercise testing for diagnostic, performance assessment or training prescription purposes would appear to be unaffected by RGC systems.