The effect of nasal irrigation on total exercise time, heart rate, and blood lactate during graded exercise in healthy individuals


  • Joshua Thompson
  • Melissa Reed
  • Tom Parker
  • Rob Tobin
  • Melissa A Whidden West Chester University



sodium bicarbonate, exercise, nasal irrigation, ergogenic aid, heart rate


Oral consumption of sodium bicarbonate is a popular yet uncomfortable ergogenic aid as gastrointestinal distress is commonly encountered with its usage. Nasal irrigation is the process of rinsing out one’s nasal passageway with an isotonic saline solution consisting of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.  Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine nasal irrigation as a possible sodium bicarbonate ergogenic aid and observe its effect on exercise performance.  Twenty active male subjects performed two treadmill graded exercise tests without and with nasal irrigation.  Heart rate, blood pressure, blood lactate, and ratings of perceived exertion were measured at rest, during the graded exercise test, and after a five minute passive recovery period.  Total exercise time was also evaluated.  Heart rate was significantly lower with nasal irrigation than without it during the first two minutes of the warm-up stage (P<0.05) and trended towards significance (P<0.10) during the first two minutes of stage one of the exercise test.  Mean arterial blood pressure was significantly lower following the passive recovery period with nasal irrigation when compared to without it (P<0.05).  Finally, total exercise time increased by ~1% from 16.99 ± 0.68 minutes without nasal irrigation to 17.19 ± 0.64 minutes with it.  These results indicate that nasal irrigation prior to an acute bout of exercise may improve total exercise time and could potentially enhance the post-exercise recovery period.  It appears that nasal irrigation may be a safe and effective alternative to the oral ingestion of sodium bicarbonate.

Author Biography

Melissa A Whidden, West Chester University

Assistant Professor

Department of Kinesiology


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How to Cite

Thompson, J., Reed, M., Parker, T., Tobin, R., & Whidden, M. A. (2015). The effect of nasal irrigation on total exercise time, heart rate, and blood lactate during graded exercise in healthy individuals. Journal of Sport and Human Performance, 3(2).



Original Research Articles