Regular exercise may lead to better lung function in smokers

Regular exercise may lead to better lung function in smokers

Vigorous physical activity is associated with better lung function among current smokers, a study has found.

Researchers from Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain used information collected from a long-standing collaboration between 25 European research centres in 11 countries.

Over a 10-year period, 3,912 adults, aged 27-57 years at the start of the study, were considered as being active if they exercised with a frequency of two or more times a week and a duration of one hour a week or more.

Associations between physical activity and lung function were only apparent among current smokers, suggesting the existence of an inflammation-related biological mechanism.

"This result highlights the importance of physical activity among current smokers specifically, which are a group at higher risk of poor lung function," said Elaine Fuertes from ISGlobal.

The research also found that participants who were active at the end of the study, either by becoming active or remaining active throughout, had significantly higher lung function than those consistently inactive.

"One possible explanation for this result may be that physical activity improves respiratory muscle endurance and strength via a short or moderate-term effect that requires sustained physical effort to maintain it," said Fuertes, first author of the research paper published in the journal Thorax.

"The results of this study strengthen the epidemiological evidence supporting an association between physical activity and respiratory health," said Judith Garcia-Aymerich, head of the Non-Communicable Diseases and Environment Programme at ISGlobal.

This evidence should be used to "inform and support public health messages that promote increasing and maintaining physical activity as a way of preserving respiratory health in middle-age adults," she added.

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