The more oxygen your muscles get, the better your athletic performance. But can oxygenated water products deliver more oxygen to working muscle? Probably not, according to a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Oxygenated waters claim to have up to 10 times more oxygen content than normal tap or bottled water. Product manufacturers claim that this additional oxygen can increase stamina, reduce recovery time and improve overall athletic performance.

The ACE study, led by John Porcari, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin, included 12 college-aged men and women who were randomly assigned to drink either 16 ounces of super oxygenated water or regular tap water. The subjects then performed a multi-stage treadmill test. At the end of each stage, researchers recorded each participant’s heart rate, blood pressure, rating of perceived exertion and oxygen consumption.

Researchers found that the oxygenated water did not measurably affect any of the listed variables. Porcari was not surprised at this outcome since the only ways to increase oxygen in the blood are to bind it to hemoglobin or dissolve it in plasma. According to Porcari, hemoglobin is already 97 to 98 percent saturated with oxygen in normal, healthy exercisers. Thus, there isn’t much room for improvement. He attributes perceived improvement from these drinks to the placebo effect.

Similarly, the Georgia Tech Medicine and Performance Newsletter (August 2001) reported on the subject, refuting the 1997 study that has been used to hype the benefits of the water. Conducted at an unidentified university in Texas, the research was never published in scientific literature, suggesting no independent verification of the study ever occurred.

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer February 2002 what’s new