Benefits and Risks of Exercise With Oxygen Therapy

Nadia Santiago
Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN
Woman running with oxygen therapy

Exercise with Oxygen Therapy (EWOT) is a method of training your body to re-establish oxygen pathways in the capillaries for better blood-flow and oxygen absorption. By wearing a mask that supplies a constant flow of oxygen while engaging in a workout, you can improve your health, enhance your performance, and achieve better fitness results.

History of the Technique

In the late 1960s, German researcher and physicist Dr. Manfred von Ardenne created a technique called Oxygen Multistep Therapy to be used in conjunction with treatment for cancer patients. The goal was to support continued function of cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary systems in their bodies by providing a rich supply of oxygen.

Since exercise is proven to increase oxygen uptake, he paired the two, along with complementary pharmaceuticals. The results were groundbreaking at the time.

EWOT Benefits

Those who use the current version of treatment, exercise with oxygen therapy (EWOT) as practiced by the American Center for Biological Medicine and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, reap similar benefits as patients who worked with Dr. von Ardenne.

  • Increased energy
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased immunity
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved alkalinity
  • Management of chronic conditions, such as COPD, cancer, and heart disease
  • Metabolism boost
  • Enhanced athletic performance
  • Recovery from brain injury

If you suffer from conditions that may benefit from these results, EWOT might be a good option for you.

Treatment Methods

Exercise with oxygen therapy treatments are delivered in two main ways.

  • Nasal cannulas (nasal tubes): While this is the cheaper option, nasal tubes deliver a lower percentage of oxygen due to the air escaping out of your mouth.
  • Oxygen mask: This provides a tighter seal for more optimal oxygen delivery.

The mask or nasal tubes are connected to a longer tube which plugs into an oxygen tank or a concentrator. A concentrator pulls oxygen out of the surrounding air, purifying it. You exercise on a piece of cardio equipment, such as an exercise bike, treadmill, elliptical, or stepper for 10 to 15 minutes while using the device.

Home and Professional Use

Treatments are available at most medical centers and hospitals for administration under supervised care. However, there are also a number of systems you can purchase online or locally for use at home. Basic systems start at around $1,500 and get up to $4,000 or more.

If you're an athlete, there may even be a fitness center near you that offers EWOT training for performance. The larger versions for gyms typically start at around $22,000 and get up over $140,000.

Potential Risks

Concerns have been raised by researchers and medical professionals since the conception of newer EWOT protocols. Specifically, over-saturation of oxygen has been shown in studies to have detrimental effects on brain function through oxygen toxicity. However, the mitigating factors seem to be the percentage of oxygen used, as well as the length of treatment, which is why companies who produce oxygenators take precautions.

  • 90 to 95 percent oxygen
  • Delivery of oxygen lower than four liters per minute
  • Recommended maximum of 15 minutes per session

With this in mind, the Healthways Medical Group and other practitioners have claimed that no notable side effects have been reported by clients, aside from some minor dryness in the throat and sinuses.

Can EWOT Benefit You?

Exercise with oxygen therapy has been used successfully for more than half a century to manage medical conditions and more recently to improve fitness and athletic performance levels. With the proper protocols, it is a safe and effective way to boost your energy and better your health. If you're considering trying EWOT, consult with your primary care physician to ask about your options.

Benefits and Risks of Exercise With Oxygen Therapy