Smokers Have Decreased Exercise Capability

Interstitial lung abnormalities decreased exercise capacity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Normal lung function is important for exercising. Unfortunately, smokers with interstitial lung abnormalities (ILA) have a reduced exercise capacity.

A new study has linked ILA with a decrease in exercise capacity in smokers. Researchers used a simple walking test to determine exercise capacity.

Even without interstitial lung disease (ILD) smokers were at risk for reduced lung function.

"If you smoke, ask your doctor about help with quitting."

The study involved 2,416 smokers and was led by Dr. Tracy W. Doyle from the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Researchers used a six-minute walking distance test (6MWD) and measured shortness of breath, quality of life and lung function.

Smokers with ILA had significantly lower 6MWD scores than smokers without ILA.

ILA is an underlying cause to interstitial lung disease (ILD). ILD affects the tissue between the air sacs in the lungs and reduces normal lung function due to scarring. ILA's can be found using a computed tomography (CT) scan.

A 6MWD test measures how far a patient travels in a six-minute time span. A longer distance means better lung function.

Researchers used subjects who were part of the COPDGene study. The COPDGene study is a large study looking to find the underlying source of COPD. The COPDGene study, which features over 10,000 participants, is funded by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The average 6MWD for smokers with ILA was 386 meters. In the study, 86 percent of smokers with ILA had a 6WMD of less than 500 meters and 19 percent of smokers with ILA had a 6WMD of less than 250 meters.

When researchers compared the results to subjects without ILA, ILA was shown to increase the odds of subjects covering less than 500 meters in the 6WMD by 80 percent. ILA was shown to increase the odds of subjects only covering 250 meters by 77 percent. These results showed a clear link between ILA and reduced exercise capacity.

Even without being diagnosed with an ILD, such as cystic fibrosis, smokers should be aware of the risks associated with ILA. At the first sign of breathing difficulties, such as shortness of breath during an exercise you normally perform with ease, smokers should ask a physician to undergo testing for ILA.

No funding information was published. No author conflicts were reported.

This study was published in the January edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 24, 2012
Last Updated:
January 24, 2012