Fitness Is Linked to Slower Decline in Lung Health
Adults who maintain or increase their fitness level have less decline in lung function than those who maintain a low level or decrease their level of fitness, according to a new study.
The effects of smoking on lung health are well known. However, other factors associated with changes in lung health, such as cardiopulmonary fitness, are less studied. Therefore, the researchers conducted their study comparing high levels of fitness to low levels to determine their effect on lung health.
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The researchers followed 5115 participants aged 18 to 30 years in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which started enrolling participants in 1985 in the United States.
The researchers measured cardiopulmonary fitness level via symptom-limited, graded treadmill test at baseline and periodically over 20 years. Then they categorized participants based on their level of fitness:
- Sustained higher levels of fitness were defined as those above the race-sex specific median at baseline and at follow-up.
- Sustained lower levels of fitness were defined as those below the median at baseline and at follow-up.
- Relatively increased levels of fitness were defined as those below the median at baseline and above the median at follow-up.
- Relatively decreased levels of fitness were defined as those above the median at baseline and below the median at follow-up.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that participants who sustained higher levels of fitness had significantly less decline in lung function than those who sustained lower fitness (FEV1, 539 mL vs 626 mL, P < 0.001; FVC, 477 mL vs 580 mL, P < 0.001) and who relatively decreased their fitness (FEV1, 539 mL vs 654 mL, P < 0.001; FVC, 477 mL vs 615 mL, P < 0.001).
In addition, those who relatively increased their fitness had significantly less decline in lung function than those who sustained lower fitness (FEV1, 533 mL vs 626 mL; P < 0.001 and FVC, 473 mL vs 580 mL; P < 0.001) and relatively decreased their fitness (FEV1, 533 mL vs 654 mL; P < 0.001; FVC, 473 mL vs 615 mL; P < 0.001).
“Greater cardiopulmonary fitness in young adulthood and achieving relatively increased level of fitness from young adulthood to middle age are associated with less decline in pulmonary function over time, suggesting an association with preservation of lung health independent of BMI and smoking,” the researchers conclude.
Benck L, Cuttica M, Colangelo L, et al. Sustained or relative increases in cardiopulmonary fitness are associated with preserved lung health from young adulthood to middle age. Paper presented at: American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2016 International Conference; May 13-18, 2016; San Francisco, CA. http://www.thoracic.org/about/newsroom/press-releases/conference/2016/resources/benck-and-fitness-and-lung-function-10510.pdf. Accessed May 17, 2016.