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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 1/2017

Association of physical activity with lung function in lung-healthy German adults: results from the KORA FF4 study

BMC Pulmonary Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2017
Agnes Luzak, Stefan Karrasch, Barbara Thorand, Dennis Nowak, Rolf Holle, Annette Peters, Holger Schulz
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (10.​1186/​s12890-017-0562-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



In lung disease, physical activity (PA) yields beneficial health effects, but its association with the function of healthy lungs has rarely been studied. We investigated the association of accelerometer-based PA with spirometric indices, maximal inspiratory mouth pressure (PImax) and lung diffusion capacity in lung-healthy adults.


In total, 341 apparently lung-healthy participants from the population-based KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) FF4 cohort study (45% male, aged 48-68 years, 47% never smokers) completed lung function testing and wore ActiGraph accelerometers over a one week period at the hip. In adjusted regression analyses, moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) was characterized as: sex-specific activity quartiles, achieving ≥ 10 consecutive minutes (yes vs. no), and meeting the WHO PA recommendations (yes vs. no).


Positive associations of MVPA-quartiles with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and corresponding Global Lung Function Initiative z-scores were found. Subjects in the most active quartile (> 47 or > 50 min/day for females and males, respectively) had 142 ml [95% CI: 23, 260] higher FEV1 and 155 ml [95% CI: 10, 301] higher FVC than those in the least active quartile (< 17 or < 21 min/day for females and males, respectively); however these associations were stronger among ex−/current smokers. Achieving at least once 10 consecutive minutes of MVPA was only associated with higher PImax [β-estimate: 0.57 kPa; 95% CI: 0.04, 1.10], remaining significant among never smokers. No associations were found with diffusion capacity or for reaching the WHO-recommended 150 min of MVPA/week in 10-min bouts.


Although the effects were small, active subjects showed higher spirometric results. The observed associations were more pronounced among ever smokers suggesting a higher benefit of PA for subjects being at a higher risk for chronic lung diseases.
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