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Objective: To identify in a follow up study airway changes occurring during the course of a sport season in healthy endurance athletes training in a Mediterranean region.
Methods: Respiratory pattern and function were analysed in 13 healthy endurance trained athletes, either during a maximal exercise test, or at rest and during recovery through respiratory manoeuvres (spirometry and closing volume tests). The exercise test was conducted on three different occasions: during basic endurance training and then during the precompetition and competitive periods.
Results: During the competitive period, a slight but non-clinically significant decrease was found in forced vital capacity (–3.5%, p = 0.0001) and an increase in slope of phase III (+25%, p = 0.0029), both at rest and after exercise. No concomitant reduction in expiratory flow rates was noticed. During maximal exercise there was a tachypnoeic shift over the course of the year (mean (SEM) breathing frequency and tidal volume were respectively 50 (2) cycles/min and 3.13 (0.09) litres during basic endurance training v 55 (3) cycles/min and 2.98 (0.10) litres during the competitive period; p<0.05).
Conclusions: This study does not provide significant evidence of lung function impairment in healthy Mediterranean athletes after one year of endurance training.