Negative emotions during exercise may induce specific ventilatory patterns

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Call for Comments:

Viewpoint: Time to Reconsider How Ventilation is Regulated above the Respiratory Compensation Point during Incremental Exercise.

by Nicolò A, Marcora SM, Sacchetti M. J Appl Physiol (1985). In press. 2020.

Our commentary on this viewpoint:

Negative emotions during exercise may induce specific ventilatory patterns. Mathieu Gruet1, Ahmed Jérôme Romain2, Benjamin Pageaux2,3

1 Unité de Recherche Impact de l'Activité Physique sur la Santé, UR IAPS n°201723207F, Université de Toulon, France.

2 École de kinésiologie et des sciences de l’activité physique (EKSAP), Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal.

3 Centre de recherche de l’institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (CRIUGM).

Correspondence : Mathieu Gruet, Ph.D

Unité de recherche Impact de l'Activité Physique sur la Santé (UR IAPS – n°201723207F) Université de Toulon - Campus Scientifique de La Garde - CS 60584

83041 TOULON Cedex 9 Phone : +33494142757 Email :

Word count : 248 References : 5


Routine cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) is mainly interpreted in terms of changes in physiological variables to further tailor training and therapeutic interventions. We believe that psychological factors such as emotions or affective responses should also be considered when evaluating breathing patterns during CPET. For example, unpleasant emotions such as anxiety or fear may alter breathing patterns, including specific respiratory frequency and tidal volume responses, independently of metabolic influences (3, 5). Negative emotions may specifically arise due to pre exercise anticipation and be reinforced throughout exercise. Exercises performed at intensities above the respiratory compensation point (RCP) may worsen affective responses, consequently exacerbating negative emotions (1). As the limbic system is involved in both emotions and respiration regulation (3), it is plausible that exercise-related negative emotions may alter the interaction between the brainstem and higher respiratory centers. Such alteration could lead to subtle changes in exercise-related breathing patterns, especially for intensities above RCP.

In conclusion, we agree with the viewpoint proposing to report both respiratory frequency and tidal volume during exercise (4). We also believe that the monitoring and report of emotions experienced before and after exercise, as well as the affective responses during the exercise, could help in i) improving our knowledge on the regulation of ventilation above the RCP and ii) understanding inter-individual differences in exercise-related breathing patterns. Such approach is of particular importance in patients with chronic respiratory disorders who may exhibit unique emotional profiles (e.g., anxiety and fear) because of the anticipation of exercise-induced dyspnea (2).

1. Ekkekakis P, Parfitt G, Petruzzello SJ. The pleasure and displeasure people feel when they exercise at different intensities: decennial update and progress towards a tripartite rationale for exercise intensity prescription. Sports Med 41: 641-671, 2011.

2. Hanania NA, O'Donnell DE. Activity-related dyspnea in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: physical and psychological consequences, unmet needs, and future directions. Int J Chron

Obstruct Pulmon Dis 14: 1127-1138, 2019.

3. Homma I, Masaoka Y. Breathing rhythms and emotions. Exp Physiol 93: 1011-1021, 2008. 4. Nicolò A, Marcora SM, Sacchetti M. Time to reconsider how ventilation is regulated above the respiratory compensation point during incremental exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985). In press. 2020.

5. Tipton MJ, Harper A, Paton JFR, Costello JT. The human ventilatory response to stress: rate or depth? J Physiol 595: 5729-5752, 2017.





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