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Introduction: Pulmonary function is compromised in most smokers. Yet it is unknown whether exercise training improves pulmonary function and aerobic capacity in cigarette and hookah smokers and whether these smokers respond in a similar way as do non-smokers.
Aim: To evaluate the effects of an interval exercise training program on pulmonary function and aerobic capacity in cigarette and hookah smokers.
Methods: Twelve cigarette smokers, 10 hookah smokers, and 11 non-smokers participated in our exercise program. All subjects performed 30 min of interval exercise (2 min of work followed by 1 min of rest) three times a week for 12 weeks at an intensity estimated at 70% of the subject’s maximum aerobic capacity (VO2max). Pulmonary function was measured using spirometry, and maximum aerobic capacity was assessed by maximal exercise testing on a treadmill before the beginning and at the end of the exercise training program.
Results: As expected, prior to the exercise intervention, the cigarette and hookah smokers had significantly lower pulmonary function than the non-smokers. The 12-week exercise training program did not significantly affect lung function as assessed by spirometry in the non-smoker group. However, it significantly increased both forced expiratory volume in 1 second and peak expiratory flow (PEF) in the cigarette smoker group, and PEF in the hookah smoker group. Our training program had its most notable impact on the cardiopulmonary system of smokers. In the non-smoker and cigarette smoker groups, the training program significantly improved VO2max (4.4 and 4.7%, respectively), v VO2max (6.7 and 5.6%, respectively), and the recovery index (7.9 and 10.5%, respectively).
Conclusions: After 12 weeks of interval training program, the increase of VO2max and the decrease of recovery index and resting heart rate in the smoking subjects indicated better exercise tolerance. Although the intermittent training program altered pulmonary function only partially, both aerobic capacity and life quality were improved. Intermittent training should be advised in the clinical setting for subjects with adverse health behaviors.
Keywords: cigarette smokers; hookah smokers; pulmonary function; aerobic capacity; interval training