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Breathing frequency (f) is often reported as having an integer-multiple relationship to limb movement (entrainment) during rhythmic exercise. To investigate the strength of this coupling while running under hypoxic conditions, two male Caucasians and four male Nepalese porters were tested in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas at altitudes of 915, 2,135, 3,200, 4,420, and 5,030 m. In an additional study in a laboratory at sea level, three male and four female subjects inspired various O2-N2 mixtures [fraction of inspired O2 (FIO2) = 20.93, 17.39, 14.40, 11.81%] that were administered in a single-blind randomized fashion during a treadmill run (40% FIO2 maximum O2 consumption). Breathing and gait signals were stored on FM tape and later processed on a PDP 11/73 computer. The subharmonic relationships between these signals were determined from Fourier analysis (power spectrum), and the coincidence of coupling occurrence was statistically modeled. Entrainment decreased linearly during increasing hypoxia (P less than 0.01). Moreover, a significant linear increase in f occurred during hypoxia (P less than 0.05), whereas stride frequency and metabolic rate remained constant, suggesting that hypoxic-induced increases in f decreased the degree of entrainment.

Original publication




Journal article


J Appl Physiol (1985)

Publication Date





1767 - 1771


Adult, Altitude, Female, Gait, Humans, Hypoxia, Male, Movement, Periodicity, Physical Exertion, Respiration