Energy efficient physiologic coupling of gait and respiration is altered in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Jennifer M. Yentes, William Denton, Kaeli Samson, Kendra K. Schmid, Casey Wiens, Stephen I. Rennard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Aims: Coupling between walking and breathing in humans is well established. In healthy systems, the ability to couple and uncouple leads to energy economization. It is unknown if physiologic efficiency is susceptible to alteration, particularly in individuals with airflow obstruction. The aim of this research was to determine if coupling was compromised in a disease characterized by abnormal airflow and dyspnoea, and if this was associated with reduced energy efficiency. Methods: As a model of airflow obstruction, 17 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and 23 control subjects were included and walked on a treadmill for 6 minutes at three speeds (preferred speed and ±20% preferred speed) while energy expenditure, breathing, and walking were recorded. Rating of perceived exertion was recorded at the end of each walking trial. The most commonly used frequency ratio (ie, strides:breath) and cross recurrence quantification analysis were used to quantify coupling. Linear regression models were used to determine associations. Results: Less complex frequency ratios, simpler ratios, (ie, 1:1 and 3:2) accompanied with stronger coupling were moderately associated with increased energy expenditure in COPD subjects. This was found for all three speeds. Conclusion: The novel finding was that increased energy expenditure was associated with stronger and less complex coupling. Increased effort is needed when utilizing a frequency ratio of 1:1 or 3:2. The more stable the coupling, the more effort it takes to walk. In contrast to the complex energy efficient coupling of controls, those with airflow obstruction manifested simpler and stronger coupling associated with reduced energy efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13217
JournalActa Physiologica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • VO2
  • cost of transport
  • entrainment
  • locomotor respiratory coupling
  • recurrence quantification analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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