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The Acute Effect of Cold Air Exercise in Determination of Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm in Apparently Healthy Athletes

Carey, Daniel G1; Aase, Katelyn A1; Pliego, German J2

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 8 - pp 2172-2178
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e34739
Original Research

Carey, DG, Aase, KA, and Pliego, GJ. The acute effect of cold air exercise in determination of exercise-induced bronchospasm in apparently healthy athletes. J Strength Cond Res 24(8): 2172-2178, 2010-The primary objective of this study was to assess the acute effects for both cold and warm air running on pulmonary function testing and the diagnosis of exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB). Subjects (n = 12, 8 men, 4 women) were distance runners (25.91 ± 4.91 miles·wk−1) with mean age 30.2 ± 5.1 years, mean height 179.0 ± 11.5 cm, and mean weight 77.1 ± 15.7 kg. Subjects first performed a maximal oxygen test on a motor-driven treadmill to assess V̇o2max and maximal heart rate (MHR). On 2 subsequent days and within a 1-week time period, subjects ran 8 minutes in random order either on an outside 478.2-m course or on the treadmill at 6% grade. Speed was adjusted under both conditions to elicit 85-95% of MHR achieved on the V̇o2max test. All tests were conducted in the month of January to maximize the potential for a cold climate. Pulmonary function test was performed immediately prerun, immediately postrun, and at 5, 10, 18, and 30 minutes postrun. There was no significant difference in any of the pulmonary function tests over time for cold vs. warm running (p > 0.05). Also, the pattern of change over time for the pulmonary function variables was not significantly different by condition (p > 0.05). Although group comparisons were not significant over time and for any variable between the 2 conditions, 7of our subjects (58.3%) at some point postexercise exhibited a change that would be considered a positive response and diagnostic of EIB. Cold running produced significantly more positive responses (75%) than warm running (25%) (p = 0.001). It is concluded that healthy individuals need not be concerned about the acute effects of cold air exercise on the lungs. Also, physicians need to be vigilant in prescribing medications and should use strict, objective criteria when doing so.

1Health and Human Performance, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota; and 2Quantitative Methods and Computer Science, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota

Address correspondence to Dr. Daniel G. Carey,

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association