Relationship between respiratory muscle function and age, sex, and other factors

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989 Feb;66(2):943-8. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1989.66.2.943.


To investigate the effects of gender and age on respiratory muscle function, 160 healthy volunteers (80 males, 80 females) were divided into four age groups. Twenty-eight of the male subjects were smokers. After the subjects were familiarized with the experimental procedure, respiratory muscle strength, inspiratory muscle endurance, and spirometric function, including forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), FEV1/FVC, tidal volume, breathing rate, and duty cycle, were measured. The respiratory muscle strength was indicated by the maximal static inspiratory and expiratory pressures (PImmax and PEmmax). Inspiratory muscle endurance was determined by the time the subject was able to sustain breathing against an inspiratory pressure load on a modified Nickerson-Keens device. The results showed that 1) except for inspiratory muscle endurance and FEV1/FVC, men had greater respiratory muscle and pulmonary functions than women, 2) respiratory muscle function and pulmonary function decreased with age, 3) smoking tended to lower duty cycle and FEV1/FVC and to enhance PE,mmax, and 4) inspiratory muscle endurance was greater in men who were physically active than in those who were sedentary. Therefore we conclude that there are sexual and age differences in respiratory muscle strength and pulmonary function and that smoking or physical activity may affect respiratory muscle function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Physical Endurance
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / physiopathology