Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major

Exercise Science

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Summer Cook


Low-intensity (LI) aerobic exercise with blood-flow restriction (BFR) increases heart rate (HR), oxygen consumption (VO2), and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), sometimes to similar levels as high-intensity (HI) exercise. Distance runners may benefit from LI-BFR running in periods of reduced volume or intensity, possibly due to injury. PURPOSE: To compare HR, VO2, blood lactate (BLa), and RPE during LI-BFR running and HI running without BFR. METHODS: Fifteen female distance runners (age 23+4yrs, height 1.67+0.50m, body mass 57.6+5.7kg, VO2max 51.0+4.5mL•kg-1•min-1) completed three randomized 12-minute running conditions: LI control (40% VO2max), HI (80% VO2max), and LI-BFR (40% VO2max). VO2, HR, and RPE were measured at rest, and every 3-minutes. BLa was measured at rest, immediately-post (ImmPost), and 3-minutes post-exercise (3minPost). RESULTS: VO2 remained steady among each condition (p=0.075,ηp2=0.155). The average VO2 differed between the conditions (p<0.001), as HI (39.4+3.9mL•kg-1•min-1) > LI-BFR (25.3+2.6mL•kg-1•min-1) > LI (22.5+3.1mL•kg-1•min-1). HR increased at the onset of exercise and differed between the conditions (p<0.001,ηp2=0.745). The average HR for HI, LI-BFR, and LI were 166+8bpm, 142+13bpm, and 124+11bpm, respectively. BLa was similar in HI and LI-BFR ImmPost and 3minPost (p>0.05), and both were higher than LI (p<0.017). Average RPE in the HI and LI-BFR conditions were similar (p=0.236). CONCLUSION: HI elicits greater VO2 and HR responses than LI-BFR running, suggesting that HI would result in more robust long-term training responses. However, if one cannot engage in HI running because of injury and rehabilitation, LI-BFR running could be a feasible temporary alternative.