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Minute Ventilation in Health and Disease

Minute ventilation (sometimes known as “minute volume”, “MV” or “respiratory minute volume”) is the air volume breathed in during one minute. Thus, l/min is the most common unit for measuring this parameter.

Minute volume is connected with tidal volume and breathing frequency using the following simple formula:

formula for minute ventilation

Average minute ventilation for a person changes throughout the day depending on many factors.

Normal minute ventilation range at rest is 5-6 L/min. Average minute volumes numbers for modern people at rest are close to 12 L/min. This means presence of overbreathing and hypocapnia (low CO2) in contemporary population leading to chronic cell hypoxia (reduced O2 levels).

What about minute ventilation in people with chronic diseases? 

For people with chronic health problems, respiratory volume is greater.

For example, for people with mild forms of diabetes, asthma, COPD, heart disease, cancer, and many other conditions have about 12-18 L/min for their minute ventilation at rest indicating reduced CO2 values 24/7.

Therefore, they suffer from overbreathing. Detailed medical references can be found on pages of

During physical exercise, minute ventilation is much greater than at rest. The maximum values for a normal adult is about 150 L/min or about 25 times more air than at rest, but alveolar and arterial CO2 remains about the same as at rest.

However, breathing slower during exercise, with muscle relaxation, helps to increase arterial CO2 (most potent vasodilator), reduce heart rate and improve O2 delivery to body tissues.


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