The effect of acupuncture and moxibustion on physical performance by sedentary subjects submitted to ergospirometric test on the treadmill

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2005 Mar;45(1):134-40.


Aim: Acupuncture and moxibustion are 2 therapeutic methods used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of acupuncture and moxibustion in physical performance by an ergospirometry test.

Methods: Thirty-one subjects, sedentary, were randomized into 3 groups: Group I (Acupuncture); Group II (AcupunctureSham) and Group III (Control). They were submitted to anamnesis and an ergospirometry test. The subjects from Groups I and II were submitted to 10 acupuncture and moxibustion sessions, twice a week, for 5 weeks. The differences between the groups were that in Group I the acupuncture and moxibustion sessions were performed in acupoints and Group II in non acupoints. After this, the ergospirometry test was performed again.

Results: The acupuncture and moxibustion sessions did not increase maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) significantly. Other variables presented a significant increasing: oxygen uptake in anaerobic threshold (VO2La); velocity in anaerobic threshold (Vel LA); caloric consumption (Gast Cal). The heart rate decreased when compared to velocity pre and post-treatment. The results show peripheral, afferent stimulation (acupuncture and moxibustion) could alter the functions of structures or internal organs. The decrease in heart rate and the significant improvement in oxygen uptake in anaerobic threshold are similar to adaptations to physical training. Probably, the autonomic nervous system (mainly sympathetic system) is engaged in the acupuncture and moxibustion mechanism of action.

Conclusions: Acupuncture and moxibustion decreased the heart rate during the ergospirometry test; the oxygen uptake in anaerobic threshold (VO2La); velocity in anaerobic threshold (Vel LA) and caloric consumption (Gast Cal) had significantly increased.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Moxibustion*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Spirometry
  • Statistics, Nonparametric