Published in The Journal of Physiology and released online here at MedicalXpress, is this study by lead investigator Professor William Sheel from the University of British Columbia.


Oxygen uptake in respiratory muscles differs between men and women during exercise

Professor Sheel’s team of researchers ‘found that at submaximal and maximal exercise intensities, respiratory muscles (muscles necessary for breathing, such as the diaphragm and muscles surrounding the ribcage) consume a greater amount of oxygen in women compared with men. This means that women use more energy when breathing because a significantly greater part of total oxygen is directed to the respiratory muscles.’

Professor Sheel explained, “During exercise we need to breathe more often, and as a consequence, the respiratory muscles need to work harder and use a lot of energy. Our findings are important because they show that the metabolic cost of breathing during exercise is higher in healthy young women. We know that like other skeletal muscles, the contracting respiratory muscles require enough blood flow to meet oxygen demand.”

What these findings suggest, although it’s recommended that further testing needs to be done, is that ‘if women have a greater oxygen cost of breathing, they likely dedicate a greater amount of blood flow towards their respiratory muscles during maximal exercise. Hence, their physical performance may be less because of a reduced blood flow to the leg muscles.’

This means that the inspiratory muscles are capable of stealing blood from other working muscles, and in so doing, impairing their performance. All is not lost though, because when you use POWERbreathe to subject your inspiratory muscles to an appropriate training resistance, they will adapt, increasing in their strength, power and stamina.