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Ventilation and Respiratory Mechanics

  1. Andrew William Sheel1,
  2. Lee M. Romer2

Published Online: 1 APR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100046

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Sheel, A. W. and Romer, L. M. 2012. Ventilation and Respiratory Mechanics. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:1093–1142.

Author Information

  1. 1

    The School of Kinesiology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

  2. 2

    Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, Brunel University, Uxbridge, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2012


During dynamic exercise, the healthy pulmonary system faces several major challenges, including decreases in mixed venous oxygen content and increases in mixed venous carbon dioxide. As such, the ventilatory demand is increased, while the rising cardiac output means that blood will have considerably less time in the pulmonary capillaries to accomplish gas exchange. Blood gas homeostasis must be accomplished by precise regulation of alveolar ventilation via medullary neural networks and sensory reflex mechanisms. It is equally important that cardiovascular and pulmonary system responses to exercise be precisely matched to the increase in metabolic requirements, and that the substantial gas transport needs of both respiratory and locomotor muscles be considered. Our article addresses each of these topics with emphasis on the healthy, young adult exercising in normoxia. We review recent evidence concerning how exercise hyperpnea influences sympathetic vasoconstrictor outflow and the effect this might have on the ability to perform muscular work. We also review sex-based differences in lung mechanics. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:1093-1142, 2012.