Smokers lungs work better after POWERbreathe IMT

This new study investigates the effects of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on smokers and non-smokers. Researchers from Ondokuz Mayıs University and Gaziantep University in Turkey look into how IMT may affect pulmonary function and respiratory muscle strength in both these groups.

Pulmonary function & respiratory muscle strength

Pulmonary function indicates how well a person’s lungs are working to help them breathe. There are different tests that measure pulmonary function, otherwise known as lung function.

Respiratory muscle strength is an indication of how much pressure the breathing muscles generate when a person breathes in or out. Assessment of respiratory muscle strength involves measuring MIP or MEP. MIP or maximal inspiratory pressure reflects the strength of the inspiratory muscles, such as the diaphragm. Meanwhile MEP or maximal expiratory pressure reflects the strength of the expiratory muscles.

The IMT program

For the IMT program, subjects use the POWERbreathe Classic IMT device. The procedure consists of 30 x 2 dynamic inspiratory efforts with a 1-minute interval. They perform this for four weeks, seven days a week. The reason researchers chose this procedure is that it has been previously applied in healthy individuals.

Smokers group, non-smokers & placebo groups

Forty-two healthy males enrol in this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental design study. There are 16 subjects in the IMT smokers group (IMTS), 16 in the IMT non-smokers group (IMTN) with the final 10 subjects in the placebo group. This final group receive a sham ‘placebo’ treatment that will have no real effect.

By using a double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental design study, researchers can test out a therapy. The placebo treatment will feel just like the actual treatment, in this case, IMT. The reason for this is so that both the subject and the researcher’s expectations will not affect the outcome. Furthermore, a double-blind controlled study means that neither the researchers nor the subjects taking part know who will be receiving which treatment. This is vital in helping to avoid bias when measuring outcomes.

For the study, the experimental groups (IMTS and IMTN) perform POWERbreathe IMT at 50% of maximal inspiratory pressure. Researchers increase this each week. Meanwhile, in the placebo group, subjects perform POWERbreathe IMT at only 15% of MIP.

Improvements occur in smokers after IMT

Results of the study show significant improvements in respiratory muscle strength and pulmonary functions after the 4-week POWERbreathe IMT program. Even more promising is the fact that improvements in smokers are greater. Potentially, this is a result of a:

“greater influence of exercise on smokers’ lung microbiome in reversing the negative effects of smoking.”

For smokers, this means that their stronger inspiratory muscles will improve their ability to breathe in more air, for longer and with less fatigue. This will have a positive impact on daily life by helping them improve their ability to perform daily activities that may have been prohibitive before.

Changes in Young Smokers after Inspiratory Exercise

This research in the August 2013 edition of Clinical Autonomic Research addresses ‘Autonomic changes in young smokers: acute effects of inspiratory exercise’.

One major consequence of smoking is the development of cardiovascular diseases or CVD. These are all the diseases of the heart and circulation. CVD includes coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and aortic disease. Smoking is one of the risk factors for CVD. The reason for this is because the toxins in tobacco can damage and narrow the coronary arteries. Consequently, this makes young smokers more vulnerable to coronary heart disease.

Purpose of research

Little was known about the early consequences of smoking and the acute effects of a single inspiratory muscle exercise session (IME). This research set out to evaluate the acute effects of inspiratory muscle exercise on cardiac parameters of young smokers.

Evaluation of young smokers

After the acute inspiratory muscle exercise session, researchers evaluate blood pressure and lactate. Furthermore, they record respiratory rate (RR) interval for posterior analysis of heart rate variability, before and after inspiratory muscle exercise.

Findings indicate that a single session of inspiratory muscle exercise is able to reduce systolic blood pressure. Additionally, it improves parasympathetic and sympathetic modulations in young smokers.

“The results of this study highlight the importance of furthering research on this area to better elucidate the acute and chronic effects of inspiratory muscle training on early cardiovascular and pulmonary changes of cigarette smoking.”