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Kinetics of oxygen uptake and heart rate at onset of exercise in children.


Requirements for cellular homeostasis appear to be unchanged between childhood and maturity. We hypothesized, therefore, that the kinetics of O2 uptake (VO2) in the transition from rest to exercise would be the same in young children as in teenagers. To test this, VO2 and heart rate kinetics from rest to constant work rate (75% of the subject's anaerobic threshold) in 10 children (5 boys and 5 girls) aged 7-10 yr were compared with values found in 10 teenagers (5 boys and 5 girls) aged 15-18 yr. Gas exchange was measured breath to breath, and phases I and II of the transition and phase III (steady-state exercise) were evaluated from multiple transitions in each child. Phase I (the VO2 at 20 s of exercise expressed as percent rest-to-steady-state exercise VO2) was not significantly correlated with age or weight [mean value 42.5 +/- 8.9% (SD)] nor was the phase II time constant for VO2 [mean 27.3 +/- 4.7 (SD) s]. The older girls had significantly slower kinetics than the other children but were also found to be less fit. When the teenagers exercised at work rates well below 75% of their anaerobic threshold, phase I VO2 represented a higher proportion of the overall response, but the phase II kinetics were unchanged. The temporal coupling between the cellular production of mechanical work at the onset of exercise and the uptake of environmental O2 appears to be controlled throughout growth in children.

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