• Users Online: 240
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 87-91

Effect of physical activity and parameters of body stature and body composition on respiratory muscle strength in healthy young males: An observational study

Department of Physiology, Government Medical College, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission20-Mar-2017
Date of Decision17-Apr-2017
Date of Acceptance19-May-2017
Date of Web Publication17-Jul-2017

Correspondence Address:
Jayesh Dalpatbhai Solanki
F1, Shivganga Apartments, Plot No. 164, Bhayani Ni Waadi, Opp. Bawaliya Hanuman Temple, Gadhechi Wadlaa Road, Bhavnagar - 364 001, Gujarat
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijcep.ijcep_22_17

Rights and Permissions

Background and Aim: Obesity and physical inactivity affect respiratory functioning adversely. Maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) and maximal expiratory pressure (MEP) measure the strength of respiratory muscles. We studied the MIP and MEP in nonathletic young males in relation to adiposity and physical activity. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study on a consecutive sample of sixty young apparently healthy nonathletic males. Body mass index (BMI) and body composition were measured by Omron Karada Scan by tetra poplar bio-electrical impedance. We measured MIP and MEP by Ultima PFX real-time diffusion (RTD) (Medgraphic diagnostic company, USA), Breezesuite software, flow volume calibration, and guidelines laid by the American Thoracic Society. Results were analyzed further by comparing the actual value against the predicted value among the three patterns of subgrouping based on BMI, visceral fat (VF), and physical activity. Statistical significance was set at P< 0.05. Results: The study group had a mean age of 21 years, mean BMI of 22.5, and nearly half with BMI <22.5 and half were physically active. Better profile of body composition was present in males with BMI <22.5, VF <10%, and physical activity. MIP and MEP of the study participants were significantly lower than the predicted values, significantly better with physical activity and better without statistical significance with BMI or VF controlled. MIP and MEP correlated negatively but insignificantly with most other test parameters. Conclusion: Maximal respiratory pressures of young nonathletic males were less than predicted, more so with physical inactivity than adiposity. This indicates the importance of exercise and moderate physical activity to strengthen the respiratory muscle for optimal maximum respiration.

Keywords: Maximal respiratory pressures, obesity, physical activity, young males

How to cite this article:
Gadhavi BP, Solanki JD, Mehta HB, Makwana AH, Shah CJ, Gokhale PA. Effect of physical activity and parameters of body stature and body composition on respiratory muscle strength in healthy young males: An observational study. Int J Clin Exp Physiol 2017;4:87-91

How to cite this URL:
Gadhavi BP, Solanki JD, Mehta HB, Makwana AH, Shah CJ, Gokhale PA. Effect of physical activity and parameters of body stature and body composition on respiratory muscle strength in healthy young males: An observational study. Int J Clin Exp Physiol [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 Jun 24];4:87-91. Available from: http://www.ijcep.org/text.asp?2017/4/2/87/210930

  Introduction Top

Obesity affects body composition adversely,[1] with increased adiposity and decline in muscle mass. This is very much evident in aged individuals and in obesity aftermaths such as type 2 diabetes.[2] Root of the same is there in the early life in the form of physical inactivity and sedentary life style [3] amidst the stressful challenges of professional life. Knowing body composition beyond body weight and body mass index (BMI)[4] offers distinct self-motivating advantage. Respiratory functions are known to be compromised in young individuals with obesity.[5] However, quantification of respiratory ability by simple spirometry misses the challenge of generating maximum strengths of respiratory muscles.

Maximal inspiratory pressure and maximal expiratory pressure (MIP and MEP) provide an estimate of respiratory muscle strength.[6] Predictive equations are available for maximal respiratory pressures' (MRPs) reference values.[7] Age, gender, and ethnicity are proven determinants of MRPs.[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] Decline of MRPs starts after the second and third decades of life.[11] Role of parameters of body stature such as height, weight, BMI, physical activity, and qualitative body fat is still studied sparsely as confounder for MRPs.[8]

Obesity and sedentary lifestyle are increasing,[12] more so in young individuals which can compromise MRPs that is not evident during resting tidal breathing. We have set out to study the effects of these parameters on MRPs in nonsmoking, nonathletic, young, apparently healthy males.

  Materials and Methods Top

Study population

We have conducted an observational study from September 15, 2015 to June 5, 2016 in pulmonary function test laboratory of the Department of Physiology of Government Medical College, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India. Using consecutive sampling, we have recruited sixty apparently healthy, young, asymptomatic male medical students and faculties, leading a sedentary life style, from the institute. The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of our college. Each participant gave written informed consent for participation in the study.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

We included asymptomatic, apparently healthy, nonathletic males, aged between 18 and 35 years, who were not smoker or tobacco chewer, not having any other addiction, not using any lifestyle interventions such as yoga, meditation, and ready to give written informed consent. We excluded ex-smokers, occasional smokers, alcoholics, tobacco chewers, hypertensives, diabetics, individuals with current respiratory diseases, individuals having occupational exposure to air pollution, doing yoga or breathing exercises, and those who are unwilling to give informed consent. Three individuals were excluded from the study due to technical difficulties including measurement techniques and cooperation.

Body composition measurement

After instrument calibration, participant details were entered and participants were allowed to stand on the instrument. A digital, portable noninvasive instrument, namely Omron Karada Scan (Body Composition Monitor, Model HBF-510, Omron Healthcare Singapore Pte Limited, China), working on the principle of tetra polar bioelectrical impedance analysis, was used. It passes electric current of 500 μA at a frequency of 5 kHz, scanning the whole body to derive regional body composition.

We used Ultima PFX (Medgraphics Diagnostic Company, Saint Paul, MN, USA) instrument that uses RTD, with the facility of exact flow sensor calibration by 3 l syringe calibration and gas analyzer calibration before each testing. We also followed quality control procedure after installation. The graph displays the pressure versus time tracing for each participant's effort. The graph's lower half is negative pressure (inspiratory maneuver); the top half is positive pressure (expiratory maneuver) [Figure 1]. The Ultima series system uses the BreathPath patient circuit and PreVent flow sensor. Breezesuite is a true multitasking software package that allows digital data acquisition and precise breath by breath analysis.
Figure 1: Pressure versus time tracing graph to measure maximal inspiratory pressure and maximal expiratory pressure

Click here to view

Test participants were physically healthy on the basis of clinical examination, free from symptoms of any acute respiratory illness. Participants were properly explained about the aim, objectives, methodology, expected outcome, and implications prior to the commencement of the study. Written informed consent was obtained from all the participants. Participants were given practice and minimum three attempts. All recordings were accomplished between 8 am and 12 noon in the morning.


Maximal inspiratory pressure test

After a minimum of four tidal breaths, the participant exhales slowly to residual volume (RV). When the participant appears to be at RV, the proximal scissor valve is closed and participant inhales as hard as possible to produce maximal negative pressure. The valve reopens in 4 s, ending the test.[6]

Maximal expiratory pressure test

After a minimum of four tidal breaths, the participant inhales slowly to total lung capacity (TLC). When the participant appears to be at TLC, the proximal scissor valve is closed and the participant exhales as hard as possible to produce a maximal positive pressure. The valve reopens in 4 s, ending the test. Pressure measurements were obtained at any lung volume. Measurements did not have to be taken at RV or TLC.[6]

Multiple regression equations for reference values [7] of MIP and MEP are as follows:

  • MIP: 278.53 – (1.23 × H) + (1.60 × W) – (3.80 × BMI – (0.27 × age)
  • MEP: 566.98 – (2.85 × H) + (3.29 × W) – (7.13 × BMI) – (1.04 × age).

Subgrouping for the study was as follows:

To analyze further, we divided the study group into three subgroups based on the following:

  • BMI [13] – cutoff of 22.5 kg/m 2
  • Visceral fat (VF)[14] – cut off of 10%
  • Physical activity (self-reported)[15] – presence or absence (defined as continuous moderate physical exercise for at least 30 min in a day for at least 5 days a week regularly).

Statistical analysis

The data were transferred on Excel spreadsheet, and descriptive analysis was expressed as mean ± standard deviation. All calculations were accomplished using Graph Pad in STAT-3 software (demo version free software of GraphPad Software, Inc. California, USA). We calculated the statistical significance difference in mean distribution of various quantitative parameters among various subgroups by Student's t-test or Mann–Whitney test. Normality test was applied to compare difference between groups for qualitative data. Correlation between the study parameters (dependent with independent) was done by Spearman's correlation test using simple linear regression model. Difference was considered statistically significant with P < 0.05.

  Results Top

Our study group of male participants (n = 60) had a mean age of 21 years, mean BMI of 22.5, with half of the participants having BMI controlled and half having physical activity. Subgroups stratified by BMI cutoff of 22.5 were comparable in age and height, but measures of body fat such as BMI, VF, total body fat (TBF), and subcutaneous fat (SF - whole body and trunk) were significantly higher and skeletal muscle mass (SkM - whole body and trunk) was insignificantly lower in participants with BMI ≥22.5 than those with BMI <22.5. Similarly, participants with VF ≥10% had significantly higher BMI, TBF, VF, SF, and lower SkM as compared to subgroup of equal numbered matched individuals with VF <10%. Physically active participants had lower BMI, VF, TBF, SF, and higher SkM as compared to sedentary participants, but all differences were statistically insignificant [Table 1].
Table 1: Study parameters in three subgroups (stratified by body mass index cutoff of 22.5 kg/m2, visceral fat cutoff of 10%, and physical activity)

Click here to view

The study group exhibited significantly lesser test values of MIP (mean − 58 vs. −82.59) and MEP (mean 54.17 vs. 115.14) than the predicted values [Table 2]. Actual values of MIP and MEP were higher in subgroup with BMI ≥22.5 than one with BMI <22.5; higher in subgroup with VF ≥10% than the matched subgroup with VF <10%. However, in both instances, differences were small and lacked statistical significance. Physically active participants exhibited significantly higher values of MIP (mean − 76 vs. −39) and MEP (mean 71 vs. 37) than sedentary individuals [Table 3].
Table 2: Comparison between actual and predicted values (mean±standard deviation) of maximal inspiratory pressure and maximal expiratory pressure in the study group (n=60)

Click here to view
Table 3: Effect of body mass index (cutoff: 22.5 kg/m2), visceral fat (cutoff: 10%), and physical activity (presence or absence) on actual values (mean±standard deviation) of maximal inspiratory pressure and maximal expiratory pressure

Click here to view

Correlation analysis showed no significant correlation of all parameters with MIP and MEP except the positive correlation of age with MIP (P = 0.001) [Table 4].
Table 4: Correlation between maximal inspiratory pressure and maximal expiratory pressure (dependent variables) with other study parameters (independent variables) in study group (n=60) using simple linear regression model

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Obesity is now officially declared a disease, and physical inactivity is one of its causes that is causative of multiple lifestyle-related morbidities and impairments.[3] Ventilatory pump which drives air for gas exchange is constantly under mechanical load, levied upon the force generators–respiratory muscles.[16] MIP and MEP, together known as MRPs, are most common, noninvasive, volitional tests to assess the same.[17] Males have better MRPs than females, more so at young age.[7],[10],[11] Physical inactivity, BMI, body fat, smoking, and ethnicity are confounders affecting MRPs which are not yet fully studied,[8] more so in healthy young individuals. MRPs are known to decease after mid-thirties.[18] BMI is a quantitative correlate and body fat is a qualitative correlate of obesity, the latter being superior to the former. Raised BMI and body fat are proven causes for impaired lung functions in normal adults.[19] We studied the effect of physical activity, BMI, and body fat in young Gujarati males aged <40 years.

By instrument calibrated for volume, flow and pressure, we measured MIP and MEP using standard protocol recording the best reading as result. It was compared against reference values [2] and in three subgrouping schemes. Young, apparently healthy, nonsmoking, nonathletic, nonlifestyle modification user males showed significantly lower values of MIP than the expected values of MIP (mean − 59 vs. expected – 83 cmH2O) and MEP (mean 54 vs. expected 115 cmH2O). This could be due to ethnicity, mean BMI of 22.5, nonathletic participants, physical inactivity in half, and perhaps lack of motivation during testing. Participants with BMI <22.5 kg/m 2 did not differ from those with BMI ≥22.5 kg/m 2 in body fat or MRPs. This nonsignificant effect of BMI in males aged 20–40 years is in line with previous studies.[7],[9],[11] BMI itself lacks qualitative inference with disparity in cutoff values.[13] BMI has J- or U-shaped relationship with morbidity.[19] Underweight and obese [20] individuals are supposed to have lesser pulmonary functions than normal weight and overweight individuals. BMI <22.5 group (n = 33) comprised underweight (n = 15) mixed with normal weight (n = 18) individuals and BMI ≥22.5 group comprised obese (n = 6) mixed with overweight (n = 21) individuals, which also explains the insignificant effect of BMI on MRPs. Similarly, BMI ≥30 is known to cause comparatively more adverse effects on MRPs [21] and we had only three such individuals. We used VF measured by bio-electrical impedance method as a measure of central obesity and a qualitative fat measure. We found better MRP values in individuals with VF ≥10% than equal numbered matched individuals with VF <10% (MIP: mean −55 vs. expected −46 cmH2O, MEP: mean 47 vs. expected 46 cmH2O). This effect was too small and statistically insignificant. This unexpected result can be due to the fact that all readings were taken in sitting position where abdominal fat exerts minimal effect [22] and mean age of 21 years might have some role as other studies had population more aged than the present study. Recent studies also support this obesity paradox [23] that overweight and obese (not morbidly obese) have better MRPs. Further consolidation is required for this result.

Age, height, weight, and SkM correlated positively and BMI, whereas TBF, VF, and SF correlated negatively with MRPs. All results were statistically insignificant, in line with two previous Indian studies.[7],[9] Sedentary individuals performed poor than moderately physically active individuals (MIP: mean −39 vs. −76 cmH2O, MEP: mean 37 vs. 71 cmH2O). It becomes further significant with the fact that these two subgroups based on physical activity had comparable age, height, weight, BMI, body fat, and working environment. Moderate level, self-reported, regular physical activity is known to have a positive impact on lung functioning [16] and our study revealed the same in reference to MRPs.

Sedentary lifestyle is a curse of modern civilization, India being no different to other countries.[24] Strength of respiratory muscle, the lifetime force generators, affects respiratory function during demanding situations such as exercise and exertion. Reduced MRPs indicate impairment of respiratory pump that compromises ventilation, gas exchange, and tissue respiration.[7] Weak respiratory pump can lead to clinical consequences such as impaired exercise tolerance, ineffective coughing, respiratory insufficiency, and dyspnea.[25] This calls for lifestyle intervention which makes physical activity and exercise tailor made for them. Surgical or nonsurgical weight reduction,[26] though effective, is dependent on physical activity for its maintenance. In chronic lung diseases, MRPs become a limiting factor for the level of individual's physical activity.[27] Reciprocally, in young asymptomatic individuals, physical activity seems a factor limiting MRPs. Physical activity is a positive predictive factor, for not only MRPs and lung functioning but also for multiple body homeostatic systems. It can be targeted as both primordial and primary prevention that will also take care of optimum BMI and body fat.

Limitations of the study

Our study was limited by moderate sample size, limitations of bio-electrical impedance, exclusion of females and elderly, and its observational nature. It calls for further vertical and/or interventional study to support the results obtained.

  Conclusion Top

In young nonathletic males, we found compromised MRPs associated with physical inactivity but not to body adiposity. It suggests the importance of physical activity and exercise to develop the strength of respiratory muscles in young individuals for optimum respiratory functioning during maximal physical exertion.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Brown RE, Kuk JL. Consequences of obesity and weight loss: A devil's advocate position. Obes Rev 2015;16:77-87.  Back to cited text no. 1
Solanki JD, Makwana AH, Mehta HB, Desai CB, Gandhi PH. Body mass index, use of statins or current lipidemic control: Do they affect body fat distribution in sedentary type 2 diabetes mellitus? J Obes Metab Res 2015;2:79-83.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
Cecchini M, Sassi F, Lauer JA, Lee YY, Guajardo-Barron V, Chisholm D. Tackling of unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and obesity: Health effects and cost-effectiveness. Lancet 2010;376:1775-84.  Back to cited text no. 3
Solanki JD, Makwana AH, Mehta HB, Gokhale PA, Shah CJ. Body composition in type 2 diabetes: Change in quality and not just quantity that matters. Int J Prev Med 2015;6:122.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Makwana AH, Solanki JD, Gokhale PA, Mehta HB, Shah CJ, Gadhavi BP. Study of computerized spirometric parameters of traffic police personnel of Saurashtra region, Gujarat, India. Lung India 2015;32:457-61.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society. ATS/ERS statement on respiratory muscle testing. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2002;166:518-624.  Back to cited text no. 6
Gopalakrishna A, Vaishali K, Prem V, Aaron P. Normative values for maximal respiratory pressures in an Indian Mangalore population: A cross-sectional pilot study. Lung India 2011;28:247-52.  Back to cited text no. 7
  [Full text]  
Sclauser Pessoa IM, Franco Parreira V, Fregonezi GA, Sheel AW, Chung F, Reid WD. Reference values for maximal inspiratory pressure: A systematic review. Can Respir J 2014;21:43-50.  Back to cited text no. 8
Nambiar VK, Ravindra S. Maximal respiratory pressures and their correlates in normal Indian adult population: A cross-sectional study. Int J Physiother Res 2015;3:1188-96.  Back to cited text no. 9
Gil Obando LM, López López A, Avila CL. Normal values of the maximal respiratory pressures in healthy people older than 20 years old in the city of Manizales – Colombia. Colomb Med (Cali) 2012;43:119-25.  Back to cited text no. 10
Costa D, Gonçalves HA, Lima LP, Ike D, Cancelliero KM, Montebelo MI. New reference values for maximal respiratory pressures in the Brazilian population. J Bras Pneumol 2010;36:306-12.  Back to cited text no. 11
Ramachandran A, Snehalatha C. Rising burden of obesity in Asia. J Obes 2010;2010. pii: 868573.  Back to cited text no. 12
WHO Expert Consultation. Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations and its implications for policy and intervention strategies. Lancet 2004;363:157-63.  Back to cited text no. 13
Omron Healthcare. Omron Instruction Manual. Full Body Sensor Body Composition Monitor and Scale Model HBF-510. China: Omron Healthcare; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 14
Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, et al. Physical activity and public health: Updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation 2007;116:1081-93.  Back to cited text no. 15
Neder JA, Andreoni S, Lerario MC, Nery LE. Reference values for lung function tests. II. Maximal respiratory pressures and voluntary ventilation. Braz J Med Biol Res 1999;32:719-27.  Back to cited text no. 16
Caruso P, Albuquerque AL, Santana PV, Cardenas LZ, Ferreira JG, Prina E, et al. Diagnostic methods to assess inspiratory and expiratory muscle strength. J Bras Pneumol 2015;41:110-23.  Back to cited text no. 17
Rea H, Becklake MR, Ghezzo H. Lung function changes as a reflection of tissue aging in young adults. Bull Eur Physiopathol Respir 1982;18:5-19.  Back to cited text no. 18
Kamal R, Kesavachandran CN, Bihari V, Sathian B, Srivastava AK. Alterations in lung functions based on BMI and body fat % among obese Indian population at National Capital Region. Nepal J Epidemiol 2015;5:470-9.  Back to cited text no. 19
Parameswaran K, Todd DC, Soth M. Altered respiratory physiology in obesity. Can Respir J 2006;13:203-10.  Back to cited text no. 20
Manuel AR, Hart N, Stradling JR. Correlates of obesity-related chronic ventilatory failure. BMJ Open Respir Res 2016;3:e000110.  Back to cited text no. 21
Appleton SL, Adams RJ, Wilson DH, Taylor AW, Ruffin RE; North West Adelaide Health Study Team. Central obesity is associated with nonatopic but not atopic asthma in a representative population sample. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006;118:1284-91.  Back to cited text no. 22
Galesanu RG, Bernard S, Marquis K, Lacasse Y, Poirier P, Bourbeau J, et al. Obesity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Is fatter really better? Can Respir J 2014;21:297-301.  Back to cited text no. 23
Anjana RM, Pradeepa R, Das AK, Deepa M, Bhansali A, Joshi SR, et al. Physical activity and inactivity patterns in India – Results from the ICMR-INDIAB study (Phase-1) [ICMR-INDIAB-5]. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2014;11:26.  Back to cited text no. 24
Frownfelter D, Elizabeth D. Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy. 4th ed. Vancouver: Mosby Inc.; 2006. p. 453-64.  Back to cited text no. 25
Pouwels S, Kools-Aarts M, Said M, Teijink JA, Smeenk FW, Nienhuijs SW. Effects of bariatric surgery on inspiratory muscle strength. Springerplus 2015;4:322.  Back to cited text no. 26
Vogiatzis I, Zakynthinos G, Andrianopoulos V. Mechanisms of physical activity limitation in chronic lung diseases. Pulm Med 2012;2012:634761.  Back to cited text no. 27


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
   Materials and Me...
   Article Figures
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded40    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal