Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Kinesiology



Major Advisor

Shawn R. Simonson, Ed.D.


Timothy R. Kempf, Ph.D.


Jeffrey M. Anderson, MA


Human breath-hold diving (free diving) has been gaining popularity as new individuals participate in the sport every year. Carbon dioxide (CO2) breath-hold tables have been widely implemented as a training modality and prescribe constant submaximal apneic durations with gradually decreasing recovery times to increase hypercapnic resiliency. Previous studies implementing maximal duration apnea training have found enhancements in apneic duration and the mammalian dive reflex (MDR), which is elicited by apnea and augmented with facial immersion. The MDR results in bradycardia and peripheral vasoconstriction to redistribute blood to vital organs and elicit oxygen (O2) conserving resulting in prolonged apneas. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine if CO2 training tables are an effective means of enhancing apneic duration, the MDR, and recovery in untrained individuals, as well as determine if physical attributes affect differences in apnea training improvements. HYPOTHESIS: After apnea training, it was expected that participants would have an increased apneic duration, accentuated MDR, and faster recovery. Also, participants with a higher maximum O2 consumption (̇V̇O2max), lean body mass percentage, and forced vital capacity (FVC) would benefit more from the apnea intervention. METHODS: 15 healthy participants with no previous breath-holding experience completed the training program (9 males, 6 females (22.67 ± 4.85 years of age)). After initial testing of physical characteristics, participants completed a dry apnea and 3 facially immersed (FI) static apneas. Arterial O2 saturation (SaO2), heart rate (HR), mean arterial pressure (MAP), fraction of CO2 in expired air (FECO2), and fraction of O2 in expired air (FEO2) were used to assess the MDR and recovery. Participants then completed a 2-week apnea training intervention. This was followed by a post-test and a series of apneas matching the same duration as the apneas completed during the pre-test (time-mimicked (TM)). STATISTICS: Repeated measures ANOVA and paired t-test were used to determine if the MDR and apneic duration were enhanced. Pearson correlation coefficient analysis was used to determine if there was a relationship between physiological characteristics and improvements in the MDR and apneic duration. RESULTS: The easy-going phase was prolonged during the post and TM tests (p2, while the TM showed a higher FEO2 compared to the pre-test (paO2 decrease (pV̇O2max and the increase in apneic duration were moderately correlated (r=0.505, p=0.027). Lean mass and FVC were not significantly correlated to increases in EGP (r=0.344, r=0.371, respectively). CONCLUSION: Two weeks of daily CO2 breath-hold table training appears to enhance apneic duration as well as the O2 conserving effect of the MDR. Furthermore, using the CO2 tables could shorten the vascular response recovery time. V̇O2max, FVC, and body composition do not appear to affect the physiological adaptations to increasing apneic duration.



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