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Effects of physical activity on exercise tests and respiratory function
  1. Y J Cheng1,
  2. C A Macera3,
  3. C L Addy4,
  4. F S Sy2,
  5. D Wieland5,
  6. S N Blair6
  1. 1The Cooper Institute, Atlanta, GA, USA
  2. 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
  3. 3San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
  4. 4University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA
  5. 5Richland Memorial Hospital, Columbia, SC, USA
  6. 6The Cooper Institute, Dallas, TX, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Cheng
 2858 Woodcock Blvd, Davidson Bldg, K-10, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA;


Background: Exercise is an important component of pulmonary rehabilitation for patients with chronic lung disease.

Objective: To explore the role of physical activity in maintaining cardiac and respiratory function in healthy people.

Methods: Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured by a maximal treadmill test (MTT), and respiratory function was tested by spirometry. The cross sectional study included data from 24 536 healthy persons who were examined at the Cooper Clinic between 1971 and 1995; the longitudinal study included data from 5707 healthy persons who had an initial visit between 1971 and 1995 and a subsequent visit during the next five years. All participants were aged 25–55 years and completed a cardiorespiratory test and a medical questionnaire.

Results: In the cross sectional study, after controlling for covariates, being active and not being a recent smoker were associated with better cardiorespiratory fitness and respiratory function in both men and women. In the follow up study, persons who remained or became active had better MTT than persons who remained or became sedentary. Men who remained active had higher forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) than the other groups. Smoking was related to lower cardiorespiratory fitness and respiratory function.

Conclusions: Physical activity and non-smoking or smoking cessation is associated with maintenance of cardiorespiratory fitness. Change in physical activity habits is associated with change in cardiorespiratory fitness, but respiratory function contributed little to this association during a five year follow up.

  • cardiorespiratory function
  • fitness
  • spirometry
  • treadmill test
  • BMI, body mass index
  • FEV1, forced expiratory volume in the first second
  • FVC, forced vital capacity
  • MTT, maximal treadmill test

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