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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2013 December;172(12):917-21


language: English

Effects of immersion and exercise on spirometric performance in water-polo players

Rubini A. 1, Parmagnani A. 1, Camporesi E. M. 2, Bosco G. 1

1 Section of Physiology Department of Biomedical Sciences University of Padua, Padua, Italy; 2 Florida Gulf-to-Bay Anesthesiology Associates Tampa General Hospital Tampa General Circle, Tampa, FL, USA


Aim: The aim of this paper was to investigate the effects on spirometric indexes of head-out water immersion and exercise.
Methods: Measurements are described regarding spirometric performance of young, healthy, professional water-polo players of both sexes taken by standard technique before and after head-out water immersion, and after the end of a match, while the participants were still immersed.
Results: Head-out water immersion caused a worsening of spirometric performance, also including effort-independent indexes, namely maximum expiratory flows at 75%, 50%, and 25% of vital capacity, which have not been extensively measured in the past. Strenuous muscular effort resulted in a worsening of spirometric performance with respect to pre-exercise data, at least for effort-independent indexes. The percentage impairment of spirometric performance indexes resulted comprised between 3 and 20%.
Conclusion: Our data indicate that water immersion exerts substantial effects on respiratory mechanics. These effects are mostly due to the hydrostatic pressure acting on the rib cage and displacing peripheral blood toward the thorax, causing lung vascular engorgement-linked increments in airway resistance and alteration in lung elastic recoil. The worsening of spirometric performance due to strenuous muscular exercise is described to probably depend on exercise-induced increment in airway resistance. It is suggested that human activities involving muscular exercise during water immersion are to be cautiously only permitted in subjects at risk of respiratory failure on a mechanical basis.

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