Terblanche, E., & Kroff, J. (2009). Does whole-body exercise affect respiratory muscle function? A study of various athletic populations. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

red line

This study compared the respiratory muscle strength and endurance of various athletic populations and established whether current reference values are adequate to predict respiratory muscle function in athletes. Ss (N = 160; 18-30 years) from eight different sports participated in this study. All athletes were well-trained at the time of the study. Maximal inspiratory pressure was measured as an indication of respiratory muscle strength and maximal voluntary ventilation in 12 seconds was measured as an index of respiratory muscle endurance. Kinanthropometric variables, such as stature, body mass, and various circumferences and breadths were included in the assessments.

There were no significant differences in maximal inspiratory pressure, maximal expiratory pressure, or maximal voluntary ventilation between endurance and non-endurance athletes. Although swimmers had slightly higher maximal inspiratory pressure and maximal voluntary ventilation values than land-based athletes, the differences were not statistically significant. In all cases, athletes had superior respiratory muscle strength and endurance compared to age-matched sedentary controls. Multiple regression analyses revealed that gender, mesomorphy, and exercise sessions per week predicted 35% of the variance in maximal inspiratory pressure, while gender, relative sitting height, forced-expiration volume 1, and respiratory peak flow predicted 78% of the variance in respiratory muscle endurance (maximal voluntary ventilation).

Implication. There are no statistically significant differences in the respiratory muscle function of endurance and non-endurance athletes, or between sports. Trained athletes have superior respiratory function when compared to sedentary cohorts. Whole-body training does affect respiratory muscle function, provided that the exercise and training is of high intensity.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.

red line