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Exercise: Kinetic Considerations for Gas Exchange

  1. Harry B. Rossiter

Published Online: 1 NOV 2010

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c090010

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Rossiter, H. B. 2010. Exercise: Kinetic Considerations for Gas Exchange. Comprehensive Physiology. 1:203–244.

Author Information

  1. Departments of Medicine and of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 NOV 2010


The activities of daily living typically occur at metabolic rates below the maximum rate of aerobic energy production. Such activity is characteristic of the nonsteady state, where energy demands, and consequential physiological responses, are in constant flux. The dynamics of the integrated physiological processes during these activities determine the degree to which exercise can be supported through rates of O2 utilization and CO2 clearance appropriate for their demands and, as such, provide a physiological framework for the notion of exercise intensity. The rate at which O2 exchange responds to meet the changing energy demands of exercise—its kinetics—is dependent on the ability of the pulmonary, circulatory, and muscle bioenergetic systems to respond appropriately. Slow response kinetics in pulmonary O2 uptake predispose toward a greater necessity for substrate-level energy supply, processes that are limited in their capacity, challenge system homeostasis and hence contribute to exercise intolerance. This review provides a physiological systems perspective of pulmonary gas exchange kinetics: from an integrative view on the control of muscle oxygen consumption kinetics to the dissociation of cellular respiration from its pulmonary expression by the circulatory dynamics and the gas capacitance of the lungs, blood, and tissues. The intensity dependence of gas exchange kinetics is discussed in relation to constant, intermittent, and ramped work rate changes. The influence of heterogeneity in the kinetic matching of O2 delivery to utilization is presented in reference to exercise tolerance in endurance-trained athletes, the elderly, and patients with chronic heart or lung disease. © 2011 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 1:203-244, 2011.