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Respiratory patterns and cytokine profiles among recreational athletes and a sedentary group.

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Background: An increasing trend in sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity has contributed to a higher incidence of obesity, a major health concern. Despite the fact that a sedentary lifestyle poses a considerable health risk and contributes to the prevalence of various diseases, sedentary populations are reluctant to modify health behaviours. An array of behaviour adaption models attest to the importance of knowledge and awareness cues regarding the positive physiological effects of exercise when addressing behaviour modification. Within this context, the cross-sectional study intends to describe the physiological effects of three recreational sport disciplines and one sedentary group on respiratory patterns and cytokine profiles within a South African cohort as a means to create knowledge and awareness cues for a sedentary population. Methods: The sample for the study comprising four sub-groups (swim-20, soccer-20, volleyball-20, sedentary-20) included 80 participants. Standardized anthropometric techniques were used to complete height (metres), weight (kilograms) and BMI measurements. The spirometry measurements were performed in accordance with the American Thoracic Society (ATS) recommendations using a MIR SPIROLAB II spirometer. The cytokine measurements were completed using the Beckman Coulter Access Immuno-Assay South African Manufacturer Kit as per the commercial laboratory recommendation. Data was analysed with IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 27 (Chicago IL, USA). Results and Discussion: The respiratory patterns in the swim, soccer and volleyball sport groups were significantly different (p<0.01). All the recreational sport groups had significantly increased lung parameters compared to the sedentary group (p<0.01). The cytokine expression for the swim, soccer, volleyball and sedentary groups were significantly different (p<0.01). Conclusion: The findings of the study support the use of recreational swimming as a means to reduce obesity caused by sedentary lifestyles which has been identified as a global problem. Swimming is also beneficial for improving respiratory patterns over and above the soccer and volleyball group which is beneficial for the management of restrictive lung conditions. The cytokine expression differed in the recreational sport groups. Recreational swimming, soccer and volleyball support low levels of systemic inflammation but studies with larger samples are required to corroborate the findings, in terms of the influence of cytokine levels on spirometry values.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.