Physiological and cognitive responses to hyperoxic exercise in full water submersion

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The positive effects of combined hyperoxia and physical exercise on physiological parameters and cognitive functioning are established for normobaric laboratory contexts. Still, increased practicability exists in hyperbaric settings like underwater activities and SCUBA diving, where environmental and sport-specific factors might moderate effects. Improved cognition, reduced ventilation (V̇E), and lower blood lactate concentrations [Lac-] are highly relevant, especially during high-stress and rescue scenarios. Fifteen participants performed eight min of continuous underwater fin-swimming at 25 % (low), 45 % (moderate), and 75 % (vigorous) heart rate reserve (HRR) on three separate test days, solely differing by the inspiratory oxygen partial pressure (PIO2: 29 kPa, 56 kPa, and 140 kPa). V̇E was measured continuously, whereas breathing gas analysis, blood sampling, and Eriksen Flanker tasks for inhibitory control (100 stimuli) were performed post-exercise. Two-way ANOVAs with repeated measures on the factors PIO2 and exercise intensity investigated physiological outcome variables and reactions times (RT) and accuracy (ACC) of inhibitory control. V̇E was significantly reduced for 140 kPa during moderate and vigorous and for 56 kPa during vigorous compared to 29 kPa. 56 kPa and 140 kPa showed no differences. [Lac-], post-exercise V̇CO2, and velocity were unaffected by PIO2. Faster RTs but lower ACC of inhibitory control were observed following exercise at 75 % HRR compared to rest, 25 %, and 45 % HRR, while PIO2 produced no effects. These findings suggest only minor effects from the increased O2 availability on metabolic processes but rather a non-linear dampening of chemoreceptor sensitivity. Hyperoxia-induced effects on cognition contradicted previous results, likely due to moderating sport-specific factors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Sports Science
Publication statusPublished - 30.04.2023


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