UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Influence and Mechanisms of Action of Environmental Stimuli on Work Near and Above the Severe Domain Boundary (Critical Power) Richard, Normand A.; Koehle, Michael


The critical power (CP) concept represents the uppermost rate of steady state aerobic metabolism during work. Work above CP is limited by a fixed capacity (W′) with exercise intensity being an accelerant of its depletion rate. Exercise at CP is a considerable insult to homeostasis and any work done above it will rapidly become intolerable. Humans live and exercise in situations of hypoxia, heat, cold and air pollution all of which impose a new environmental stress in addition to that of exercise. Hypoxia disrupts the oxygen cascade and consequently aerobic energy production, whereas heat impacts the circulatory system’s ability to solely support exercise performance. Cold lowers efficiency and increases the metabolic cost of exercise, whereas air pollution negatively impacts the respiratory system. This review will examine the effects imposed by environmental conditions on CP and W′ and describe the key physiological mechanisms which are affected by the environment. Graphical Abstract

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