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Exp Physiol. 2014 Mar;99(3):562-70. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2013.076406. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

The effect of increased physical activity on pulmonary diffusing capacity in unfit women.

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  • 1* Department of Health and Sport Sciences, Crawford Gym, Room LL02B, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.    gerald.zavorsky@louisville.edu, gerryzavorsky@gmail.com.


The purpose of the study was to determine whether short-term high-intensity aerobic interval training improves resting pulmonary diffusing capacity for nitric oxide (DLNO) and carbon monoxide (DLCO). Twenty-eight sedentary women [mean (SD) age 32 (11) years, body mass index 24.3 (5.7) kg m(-2)] were randomly assigned to either a self-directed moderate-intensity physical activity (n = 14) group or a supervised high-intensity aerobic interval training group (n = 14). The moderate physical activity group and the aerobic interval training group increased weekly physical activity energy expenditure by 800 and 1600 kcal week(-1), respectively. After 6 weeks, aerobic capacity increased to a similar exent in both groups (mean improvement 8%, effect size 0.39). The DLNO, but not DLCO, increased to a similar extent in both groups, by 4% or 3.0 (5.7) [95% confidence interval 0.8, 5.2] ml min(-1) mmHg(-1) m(-2) from pre- to post-training (effect size 0.27). There was no correlation between the change in aerobic capacity and the change in DLNO (P > 0.05) or between the change in aerobic capacity and the change in total weekly physical activity energy expenditure (P > 0.05). Interval training does not provide additional improvements in DLNO or aerobic capacity compared with self-directed moderate-intensity physical activity (4-6 metabolic equivalent tasks, 800 kcal week(-1), for 6 weeks) in unfit women. Despite the slight improvement in both DLNO and aerobic capacity, true meaningful physiological changes in these parameters remain questionable.

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