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Comparison of lung volume in Greek swimmers, land based athletes, and sedentary controls using allometric scaling.
  1. M Doherty,
  2. L Dimitriou
  1. Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Luton, United Kingdom.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE: To compare lung volumes in a large cross sectional sample of Greek swimmers, land based athletes, and sedentary controls by means of allometric scaling. METHODS: Four hundred and fifty nine asymptomatic Greek children and young adults (age 10-21 years), including 159 swimmers, 130 land based athletes, and 170 sedentary controls, performed forced expiratory manoeuvres into a portable spirometer. Measurements included forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1.0), and peak expiratory flow. Body mass and stature were also measured using standardised anthropometric techniques. RESULTS: Logarithmic transformations showed that in FEV1.0 was highly related to in stature in males and females (r = 0.93 and 0.86 respectively, P < 0.001) and were used to determine the exponent in an allometric equation which also included age and age. Resulting power functions, FEV1.0/stature, were 0.64 (0.18) litres/m2.69 and 0.33 (0.24) litres/m2.32 for males and females respectively (mean (SE)). The male and female swimming groups had larger FEV1.0 than both land based athletes and sedentary controls (one way analysis of variance, P < 0.001). In addition, male national standard swimmers (n = 38) had superior FEV1.0 in comparison with male non-national standard swimmers (n = 24; t test, P < 0.05). However, when years of swimming training was controlled for by analysis of covariance, the difference in FEV1.0 between the two groups was no longer evident. CONCLUSIONS: Swimmers have superior FEV1.0 independent of stature and age in comparison with both land based athletes and sedentary controls. In addition, male national standard swimmers have superior FEV1.0 independent of stature and age in comparison with male non-national standard swimmers. When years of training is controlled for, the difference in FEV1.0 between the two groups is no longer evident. This suggests that the years of swimming training and/or the earlier age at which training begins may have a significant influence on subsequent FEV1.0 and swimming performance. However, because of the cross sectional nature of this study, the results do not exclude genetic endowment as a major determinant of the superior lung volume observed in swimmers.

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