Influence of posture, sex, and age on breathing pattern and chest wall motion in healthy subjects

Braz J Phys Ther. 2020 May-Jun;24(3):240-248. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2019.02.007. Epub 2019 Mar 1.

Abstract

Objective: We evaluated the effects of posture, sex, and age on breathing pattern and chest wall motion during quiet breathing in healthy participants.

Methods: Eighty-three participants aged 42.72 (SD=21.74) years presenting normal pulmonary function were evaluated by optoelectronic plethysmography in the seated, inclined (with 45° of trunk inclination), and supine positions. This method allowed to assess the chest wall in a three dimensional way considering the chest wall as three compartments: pulmonary rib cage, abdominal rib cage and abdomen.

Results: Posture influenced all variables of breathing pattern and chest wall motion, except respiratory rate and duty cycle. Chest wall tidal volume and minute ventilation were reduced (p<0.05) in both sexes from seated to inclined and from seated to supine positions, mainly in males. Moreover, moving from seated to supine position significantly increased the percentage contribution of the abdomen to the tidal volume in both sexes (p<0.0001). Regarding sex, women showed higher contribution of thoracic compartment compared to men (p=0.008). Aging provided reductions on rib cage contributions to tidal volume that were compensated by increases of abdomen contributions (p<0.0001). In addition, increases in end-inspiratory and end-expiratory volumes over the years were observed.

Conclusion: The degree of contribution of chest wall compartments is dependent on posture, sex, and age. Therefore, verticalization increases expansion of pulmonary rib cage as well as horizontalization increases abdominal displacement. Women presented higher thoracic contribution to tidal volume than men. Aging reduces rib cage contributions to tidal volume that were compensated by increases of abdomen contributions.

Keywords: Aging; Optoelectronic plethysmography; Physical therapy; Position.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Plethysmography / methods*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Respiration
  • Thoracic Wall / physiopathology*
  • Tidal Volume