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Active Voice: Is Kenyan Running Success an Attribute of Ventilatory Capacity?

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Dr. Foster is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of British Columbia — Okanagan. His primary research activities relate to cardiopulmonary adaptations to physiological stressors.

Dr. Sheel is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia — Vancouver. His principle research areas relate to respiratory and exercise physiology. Dr. Sheel also is a member of ACSM.

This commentary presents Dr. Foster's and Dr. Sheel's views on the topic of a research article which they and their colleagues published in the April 2014 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise® (MSSE).


It is commonly believed that the capacity of the normal lung is "over-built" and exceeds the demand for pulmonary O2 transport in the healthy, exercising human. However, in some highly fit endurance athletes, the pulmonary system appears underbuilt relative to the demand for maximal O2 transport. For example, work from our lab and other labs have shown that many highly trained endurance athletes experience pulmonary limitations that can contribute to diminished exercise performance. For example, low amounts of O2 in arterial blood, a high work of breathing and reaching the ventilatory capacity have each been shown to be pulmonary system limitations and thus each can have consequences to maximal O2 uptake and exercise performance. more


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