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The effects of cigarette smoking on aerobic and anaerobic capacity and heart rate variability among female university students

Authors Lee C, Chang W

Received 30 May 2013

Accepted for publication 30 August 2013

Published 17 October 2013 Volume 2013:5 Pages 667—679

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S49220

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Chia-Lun Lee,1 Wen-Dien Chang2

1Physical Education Section for General Education, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 2Department of Sports Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan


Aim: In this study, the effects of cigarette smoking on maximal aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, and heart rate variability among female university students were investigated.
Materials and methods: Twelve smokers and 21 nonsmokers participated in this study. All participants performed an intermittent sprint test (IST) and a 20 m shuttle run test to measure their anaerobic capacity and maximal aerobic capacity. The IST was comprised of 6 × 10-second sprints with a 60-second active recovery between each sprint. Heart rate variability was recorded while the participants were in a supine position 20 minutes before and 30 minutes after the IST.
Results: The total work, peak power, and heart rate of the smokers and nonsmokers did not differ significantly. However, the smokers’ average power declined significantly during sprints 4 to 6 (smokers versus nonsmokers, respectively: 95% confidence interval =6.2–7.2 joule/kg versus 6.8–7.6 joule/kg; P<0.05), and their fatigue index increased (smokers versus nonsmokers, respectively: 35.8% ± 2.3% versus 24.5% ± 1.76%; P<0.05) during the IST. The maximal oxygen uptake of nonsmokers was significantly higher than that of the smokers (P<0.05). The standard deviation of the normal to normal intervals and the root mean square successive difference did not differ significantly between nonsmokers and smokers. However, the nonsmokers exhibited a significantly higher normalized high frequency (HF), and significantly lower normalized low frequency (LF), LF/HF ratio, and natural logarithm of the LF/HF when compared with those of the smokers (P<0.05).
Conclusion: Smoking may increase female smokers’ exercise fatigue and decrease their average performance during an IST, while reducing their maximal aerobic capacity. Furthermore, smoking reduces parasympathetic nerve activity and activates sympathetic cardiac control.

Keywords: exercise test, exercise tolerance, heart rate, physical endurance, vital signs

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