Supplemental Oxygen for Athletes
No matter what type of athlete you are, competitive or hobby, endurance or high-intensity, the benefits of adding supplemental oxygen to your routine are many. Athletic performance and recovery depends on oxygen. Using supplemental oxygen to improve your workout isn’t just for professional athletes anymore. Active people of all ages and abilities are finding that this simple practice is a huge game-changer.
The air that we breathe is made up of only 21% oxygen, with the majority actually being nitrogen. But, this does not mean oxygen isn’t critically important, particularly during exercise.
Oxygen is needed for your body to create energy to power your tissues, organs, cells, and brain, which require even more during sports performance. Without enough oxygen, it’s common to experience things like shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue, and dizziness - especially during and following periods of strenuous activity.
Knowing that oxygen is what fuels our body to work hard, endure physical activity, and recover quickly, it makes sense that adding more of it can have benefits.
VO2 Max and Sports Performance
VO2 max is a measurement of the maximum rate at which oxygen can be effectively utilized during exercise by the body - specifically the heart, lungs, and muscles. It’s used to measure someone’s aerobic capacity.
The higher your VO2 max, the more oxygen your body can take in, and the more effectively you can use it to generate ATP energy during sports performance. VO2 max varies by individual, and is influenced by factors like age, gender, elevation/altitude, and fitness level.
What does this have to do with supplemental oxygen? Using oxygen can improve your VO2 max, which can help optimize sports performance and reduce recovery time following athletic activity.
Boosting your VO2 max improves how oxygen is delivered and used by your body, which can have long-term health and fitness benefits. It may also help minimize fatigue from sports or activities like walking up flights of stairs or participating in various exercises.
Effectiveness of Supplemental Oxygen for Athletes
Research shows that using 95% supplemental oxygen provides faster short-term recovery to aerobic breathing, and can improve blood oxygen saturation available to the body.
In an independent trial, 95% concentrated supplemental oxygen was found to increase the VO2 kinetics of participants after beginning their exercise, resulting in attaining steady-state VO2 faster and possibly maintaining it longer during aerobic exercise. In other words, supplemental oxygen can increase oxygen levels in the body and even help the body maintain and use more oxygen during exercise, which can benefit sports performance and recovery.
Many athletes use portable oxygen, or oxygen in a can, on the sidelines to prepare their bodies for optimal performance on the field. Game day means an increase in breathing and heart rate, and higher oxygen needs. Providing the body with more oxygen allows for more energy and faster recuperation.
For runners and endurance athletes, inhalable oxygen can be used to maximize oxygen intake, avoid muscle cramps and possibly reduce risk for injury. When you inhale oxygen, it’s absorbed into your blood, where hemoglobin proteins in red blood cells carry it to your muscles and tissues. Increasing oxygen availability can improve this whole process.
Supplemental oxygen is a great all-natural respiratory support for athletes of all ages and levels, offering many benefits for performance and recovery.
Bio: Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and freelance writer with 13-years of experience in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Through her writing she demonstrates her passion for helping people achieve ideal health and make transformational changes in their lives.