Could you tell me about the benefits of using oxygen shots on training of different types (e.g., strength, aerobic or just general wellbeing)?
The first thing to get straight is what exactly “oxygen shots” are? I will assume it means inhalation of oxygen from an O2 container or mini- canister. Usually, when people use oxygen supplementation, it is for several minutes, hours or days. It is generally seen in use on the side lines during an NFL game, or if you watch the OLN channel, you can see guys climbing at very high altitudes “sucking air” from a mask. I will try to describe what I know about O2 use and gas exchange in a healthy person. However, people with different types of illness frequently receive oxygen supplementation.
Oxygen supplementation is used extensively in a hospital setting. People who have O2 delivery problems get a low flow (one to two liters) of oxygen via nasal canula. If their oxygen delivery to the tissues is low, the flow might get turned up to three to five liters a minute, or they use a Venturi mask for better availability. There are many things that can influence the delivery of oxygen to the tissues. And as important as the delivery is the extraction of carbon dioxide (Co2) from the tissues to the lung to be exhaled.
Measuring someone’s oxygen saturation level can be easy and somewhat accurate with a finger oxymeter (a thing you stick on the end of your index finger that reads blood saturation through your skin’s surface). Most readings over 95 percent are acceptable in untrained people. In the sports setting, most athletes should be above 98 percent at rest. When under a workload, it should be 100 percent. Here is where the question begins.
If the person exercising is not above 8,000 feet and/or does not have an extraction problem, why would they need oxygen from a canister? The lung tissues (alveoli) are saturated with atmospheric oxygen, and if the circulation of the person is functioning well, then there should be no reason for O2 supplementation. Information on this topic tends to hold the same idea. The proposed effects of ”oxygen in a bottle” is that it will increase the level of O2 in the blood. With this proposed benefit, the athlete fights off fatigue for longer periods of time.
Now, it might be a benefit if the person is flowing O2 while they are training. In Wilmore & Costill’s Physiology of Sport and Exercise, they review several angles to the use of oxygen. The only time it makes a difference is when the person is performing work and inhaling pure oxygen. It is ergogenic when used in this fashion. More work can be completed, and lower heart rates for a given load and lower lactic acid levels are recorded for a set work intensity. Other than that, just plain old air seems to work.
As you know, adaptation to exercise takes time. Getting your client to put in the hours of aerobic training needed for increases in RBC level will be much more long term than sucking O2. There is a certain level of hypoxia needed from the training to stimulate natural erythropoietin release, which stimulates RBC production and improves oxygen transportation. This may be more beneficial in the long run.
Thank you for the interesting question, and good luck training!