Human performance augmentation: the importance of integrative physiological quantification

Benjamin J. Ryan, Nisha Charkoudian, Michael J. Joyner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In recent years, there has been an explosion of new approaches (technological, methodological, pharmacological, etc.) designed to improve physical performance for athletes, the military and in other applications. The goal of the present discussion is to review and quantify several ways in which physiology can provide important insights about which tools may lead to improved performance (and may therefore be worth resource investment) and which tools are less likely to provide meaningful enhancement. To address these objectives, we review examples of technological solutions/approaches in terms of the magnitude of their potential (or actual) influences: transformational, moderate, ineffective or undetermined. As one example, if there were a technology which significantly increased arterial oxygen partial pressure by 10%, this would be relatively meaningless in healthy people resting at sea level, where it would have a minimal effect on arterial oxygen content. However, there might be specific situations where such an effect would be very helpful, including at high altitude or in some patient populations. We discuss the importance of quantitative evaluation of putative approaches to performance enhancement and highlight the important role of integrative physiologists in the development and critical appraisal of these approaches. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-416
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • endurance
  • exercise physiology
  • hypoxia
  • strength
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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