Enhancing Sports Performance with Oxygen Therapy: Is It Worth the Hype?

Oxygen therapy has been gaining popularity in recent years as a way to enhance sports performance. The idea behind oxygen therapy is simple: by increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the body, athletes can improve their endurance, speed, and overall performance. But is it really worth the hype? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at oxygen therapy and its potential benefits for athletes.

What is Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen therapy is a treatment that involves breathing in pure oxygen through a mask or other device. The idea behind the therapy is to increase the amount of oxygen in the body, which can help improve the body’s ability to perform physical activity. When you breathe in air, your lungs transfer oxygen from the air into your bloodstream. This oxygen is then transported to your body’s cells, where it’s used to produce energy.

Benefits of Oxygen Therapy for Athletes

Improved Endurance

By increasing the amount of oxygen in the body, athletes may be able to improve their endurance. This is because oxygen is needed to produce energy, and the more oxygen that is available, the more energy the body can produce. This can help athletes perform for longer periods of time without getting tired.

Increased Speed

Oxygen therapy may also help improve speed. This is because oxygen is needed to produce energy, and the more energy the body can produce, the faster it can move. This can be particularly beneficial for athletes who participate in sports that require speed, such as sprinting or cycling.

Faster Recovery

Oxygen therapy may also help improve recovery time after a workout or competition. This is because oxygen is needed to repair damaged muscle tissue, and the more oxygen that is available, the faster the body can repair itself.

Increased Mental Clarity

Due to the increased amount of oxygen available in the body, athletes may experience an enhanced sense of mental clarity and alertness. This can be especially useful during high-pressure situations, such as competitions or games.

Improved Immune System Function

Oxygen therapy has been shown to improve immune system function, which can help athletes avoid illness and stay healthy. This is because oxygen is essential for the body’s immune system to function properly.

Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation can be a hindrance to athletic performance and recovery. Oxygen therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to improved performance and faster recovery times.

Potential Risks of Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen Toxicity

Breathing in too much oxygen can be harmful to the body. This is known as oxygen toxicity and can cause seizures, lung damage, and other serious health problems. However, oxygen toxicity is rare and usually only occurs when very high levels of oxygen are breathed in for prolonged periods of time.


Breathing in pure oxygen can also increase the risk of infection. This is because bacteria thrive in environments with low levels of oxygen, and breathing in pure oxygen can create an environment where bacteria can grow. However, this risk can be minimized by ensuring that the equipment used for oxygen therapy is properly cleaned and sterilized.


Oxygen therapy can be expensive, especially if it is done on a regular basis. This can be a significant barrier for athletes who are on a tight budget. However, some athletes may find that the benefits of oxygen therapy outweigh the cost.


Oxygen therapy has potential benefits for athletes, including improved endurance, increased speed, faster recovery, increased mental clarity, improved immune system function, and reduced inflammation. However, there are also potential risks to consider, including oxygen toxicity, infection, and cost. Before trying oxygen therapy, athletes should carefully consider these risks and consult with a medical professional. Overall, while oxygen therapy may be worth exploring for some athletes, it is not a magic bullet and should not be relied upon as the sole solution for improving sports performance.

Greg Eckel

Dr. Greg Eckel

Dr. Greg Eckel’s journey into Naturopathic and Chinese Medicine began in the mid-90s when he noticed the overmedication of children while teaching preschool. In 2001, he co-founded Nature Cures Clinic in Portland, Oregon, and later founded bVital, a wellness and recharging center in Park City, Utah.

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