Three weeks of respiratory muscle endurance training improve the O2 cost of walking and exercise tolerance in obese adolescents

Hailu K. Alemayehu, Desy Salvadego, Miriam Isola, Gabriella Tringali, Roberta De Micheli, Mara Caccavale, Alessandro Sartorio, Bruno Grassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obese adolescents (OB) have an increased O2 cost of exercise, attributable in part to an increased O2 cost of breathing. In a previous work a short (3-week) program of respiratory muscle endurance training (RMET) slightly reduced in OB the O2 cost of high-intensity cycling and improved exercise tolerance. We hypothesized that during treadmill walking the effects of RMET would be more pronounced than those observed during cycling. Sixteen OB (age 16.0 ± 0.8 years; body mass [BM] 127.7 ± 14.2 kg; body mass index 40.7 ± 4.0 kg/m2) underwent to 3-week RMET (n = 8) superimposed to a multidisciplinary BM reduction program, or (CTRL, n = 8) only to the latter. Heart rate (HR) and pulmonary O2 uptake ((Formula presented.) O2) were measured during incremental exercise and 12-min constant work rate (CWR) walking at 60% (moderate-intensity, MOD) and 120% (heavy-intensity, HEAVY) of the gas exchange threshold (GET). The O2 cost of walking (aerobic energy expenditure per unit of covered distance) was calculated as (Formula presented.) O2/velocity. BM decreased (~4–5 kg) both in CTRL and in RMET. (Formula presented.) O2peak and GET were not affected by both interventions; the time to exhaustion increased following RMET. During MOD and HEAVY RMET decreased (Formula presented.) O2, the O2 cost of walking (MOD: 0.130 ± 0.033 mL/kg/m [before] vs. 0.109 ± 0.027 [after], P = 0.03; HEAVY: 0.196 ± 0.031 [before] vs. 0.180 ± 0.025 [after], P = 0.02), HR and rates of perceived exertion; no significant changes were observed in CTRL. In OB a short RMET program lowered the O2 cost of MOD and HEAVY walking and improved exercise tolerance. RMET could represent a useful adjunct in the control of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13888
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018


  • O cost of breathing
  • O cost of walking
  • Obesity
  • respiratory muscle endurance training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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