Journal of Applied Physiology

Saturation of arterial blood with oxygen during maximal exercise

Loring B. Rowell, Henry L. Taylor, Yang Wang, Walter S. Carlson


The per cent saturation of the arterial blood with oxygen was examined in four men before and during the last 15 sec of a 3-min run of sufficient intensity to elicit a maximal oxygen intake. The measurements were repeated after a 3-month period of intensive conditioning for middle distance running and in a group of four athletes in good physical condition. The per cent saturation in the sedentary group was 95.8 at rest and 93.4 during exhausting exercise; after conditioning the similar figures were 95.4 and 91.4 and, finally, the athletes showed a per cent saturation of 85.2 during the heavy work. The arterial oxygen content during exhausting work was found to be 20.12 ml/100 ml blood in the sedentary group before training, 19.02 after conditioning, and 18.18 in the group of athletes. It is concluded that, in athletes who are well conditioned and pushing themselves close to the limit of their capacity, arterial desaturation can take place.

athletic conditioning and arterial oxygen saturation; arterial desaturation in athletes; ventilation and arterial desaturation; oxygen intake and arterial oxygen saturation

Submitted on August 5, 1963