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Metabolic and ventilatory responses to steady state exercise relative to lactate thresholds


The metabolic and ventilatory responses to steady state submaximal exercise on the cycle ergometer were compared at four intensities in 8 healthy subjects. The trials were performed so that, after a 10 min adaptation period, power output was adjusted to maintain steady state\(\dot V_{O_2 }\) for 30 min at values equivalent to: (1) the aerobic threshold (AeT); (2) between the aerobic and the anaerobic threshold (AeTAnT); (3) the anaerobic threshold (AnT); and (4) between the anaerobic threshold and\(\dot V_{O_{2max} } \) (AnTmax). Blood lactate concentration and ventilatory equivalents for O2 and CO2 demonstrated steady state values during the last 20 min of exercise at the AeT, AeAnT and AnT intensities, but increased progressively until fatigue in the AnTmax trial (mean time=16 min). Serum glycerol levels were significantly higher at 40 min of exercise on the AeAnT and the AnT when compared to AeT, while the respiratory exchange ratios were not significantly different from each other. Thus, metabolic and ventilatory steady state can be maintained during prolonged exercise at intensities up to and including the AnT, and fat continues to be a major fuel source when exercise intensities are increased from the AeT to the AnT in steady state conditions. The blood lactate response to exercise suggests that, for the organism as a whole, anaerobic glycolysis plays a minor role in the energy release system at exercise intensities upt to and including the AnT during steady state conditions.

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Correspondence to Jorge Pinto Ribeiro.

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Ribeiro, J.P., Hughes, V., Fielding, R.A. et al. Metabolic and ventilatory responses to steady state exercise relative to lactate thresholds. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 55, 215–221 (1986).

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Key words

  • Aerobic threshold
  • Anaerobic threshold
  • Blood lactate
  • Serum free fatty acids
  • Serum glycerol