Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2014

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

William C. Byrnes, Ph.D.


Exercise induced arterial desaturation (EIAD) occurs in a large percentage of highly trained athletes at sea-level (SL), but is extremely rare in less trained populations at SL. Altitude increases the risk for EIAD, but little research has looked at the prevalence of EIAD in recreationally active males at moderate altitude (MA). Moreover, previous research has identified a strong correlation between total hemoglobin mass (tHb) and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). However, no research has looked at the effect that EIAD has on the VO2max-tHb relationship. We sought to determine the prevalence of EIAD in recreationally active males at moderate altitude, and further to determine how this effected the VO2max-tHb relationship. Additionally, we looked at how tHb and EIAD influenced performance at VO2max. Six recreationally active subjects living at moderate altitude (~1655m) completed 5 separate visits. This consisted of a graded exercise test to determine VO2max, two endurance performance tasks at peak power output, and two tHb measurements using the optimized carbon monoxide rebreathing procedure. Preliminary results show that four of six subjects experienced EIAD. Additionally, while tHb alone explained a large portion of the variability in VO2max, adding arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) into the model increased this relationship. No correlation was found between SaO2, tHb, and performance at VO2max. Our results demonstrate that the VO2max-tHb model can be improved by taking into account SaO2, and highlight the importance of accounting for SaO2 as well as tHb as markers for oxygen transport and whole body oxygen carrying capability in relation to VO2max.