Are the the Relative Response Patterns for Ventilatory & Perceptual Responses to Graded Exercise with Thoracic Loading Similar in Males & Females?

Research Paper Title

Ventilatory responses in males and females during graded exercise with and without thoracic load carriage.


To compare the effects of thoracic load carriage on the ventilatory and perceptual responses to graded exercise.


14 pairs of height-matched, physically active males and females completed randomly ordered modified Balke treadmill exercise tests with and without a correctly sized and fitted 20.4 kg backpack and work clothing.

Subjects walked at 1.56 m.s- 1 while grade was increased by 2% every 2 min until exhaustion.

Ventilatory responses were measured with open circuit spirometry and perceptual responses were evaluated using the modified Borg scale.

Inspiratory capacity manoeuvres were performed to calculate operating lung volumes.


Despite height matching, males had significantly greater lung volumes and peak oxygen uptake ([Formula: see text]O2peak).

Peak O2 and ventilation were lower (p < 0.05) for all subjects under load.

Throughout exercise, the ventilatory [E] equivalents for O2 and carbon dioxide production were significantly higher in females, independent of condition.

At similar relative submaximal intensities (%O2peak), there was no difference in E between conditions in either group, however, all subjects adopted a rapid and shallow breathing pattern under load with decreased tidal volume secondary to lower end-inspiratory lung volume.

The relative changes in breathing pattern and operating lung volume between unloaded and loaded conditions were similar between males and females.

Females reported significantly higher dyspnea ratings for a given E compared to males; however, the relationship between dyspnea and E was unaffected by load carriage.


The relative response patterns for ventilatory and perceptual responses to graded exercise with thoracic loading were similar in males and females.


Phillips, D.B., Ehnes, C.M., Stickland, M.K. & Petersen, S.R. (2019) Ventilatory responses in males and females during graded exercise with and without thoracic load carriage. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 119(2), pp.441-453. doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-4042-5. Epub 2018 Dec 4.


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