Background: The evaluation of respiratory muscle performance can be described in terms of strength and endurance, the latter usually being measured by means of resistive or threshold inspiratory loads, using devices that are also used for respiratory muscle training. Few authors, however, have published endurance reference values for healthy subjects. To that end, we studied two indices of respiratory muscle endurance in a population of 99 healthy volunteers (50 men, 49 women) divided into five age groups (20–70 years old) applying a modification of the methods of Martyn et al. and Nickerson and Keens. Inspiratory muscle endurance (Tlim) was defined as the time the subject was able to sustain breathing against an inspiratory pressure load equivalent to 80% of the maximum tolerated load (Cmax). Cmax was calculated using a 2-min incremental threshold load. Results: We found that the heaviest inspiratory threshold load tolerated for 2 min and the time a load equivalent to 80% of Cmax (Tlim) could be sustained were not significantly different for male and female subjects. Tlim correlated with Cmax, age, height, and maximum respiratory pressures.

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