The effects of adaptation to cold, hypoxia, or exercise on hyperbaric decompression tolerance were investigated in two factorial experiments. For either 14 or 28 days, groups of mice were handled (control); exposed discontinuously for 4 h to cold (4 degrees C) or hypoxia (P approximately 379 or 320 Torr); or exercised by swimming (15 min at 31 degrees C) or treadmill excursion (8.1 m/min for 1 or 1.5 h). The animals were divided into subgroups, exposed to one of three hydrostatic pressures (7.6--11.1 ATA) for 30 min, decompressed, and observed to determine survival rate or bends incidence (type II decompression sickness). Decompression sickness was significantly reduced (P less than 0.05) in the treadmill-trained animals, was unchanged in cold-exposed and swim-exercised mice, and tended to increase in animals adapted to hypoxia. Enhanced tolerance by treadmill training is presumably due to lean body conformation, which could reduce nitrogen saturation of tissues, and greater muscle capillarization and cardiovascular fitness, which may improve nitrogen elimination. Reduced tolerance with adaptation to hypoxia may be attributed to rheological changes associated with polycythemia, which facilitate bubble production.
- Copyright © 1979 the American Physiological Society