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Effect of obesity on constant workrate exercise in hyperinflated men with COPD

Louis Laviolette1, Francesco Sava1, Denis E O'Donnell2, Katherine A Webb2, Alan L Hamilton3, Steven Kesten4 and François Maltais1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre de recherche, Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

2 Respiratory Investigation Unit, Department of Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

3 Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Limited, Burlington, Ontario, Canada

4 Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation, Ingelheim, Germany

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2010, 10:33  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-10-33

Published: 30 May 2010



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a high body mass index (BMI) can both affect pulmonary volumes as well as exercise tolerance, but their combined effect on these outcomes is not well known. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of increased BMI during constant workrate cycle ergometry in patients with COPD.


Men with COPD and hyperinflation were divided according to World Health Organization BMI classification: 84 normal BMI (NBMI), 130 overweight (OW) and 64 obese (OB). Patients underwent spirometric and lung volumes assessment and an incremental cycling exercise test. This was followed by a constant workrate exercise test (CET) at 75% of peak capacity. Inspiratory capacity and Borg dyspnea scores were measured at baseline, during and at the end of CET.

Results and discussion

FEV1 % predicted was not different across BMI classes. Total lung capacity and functional residual capacity were significantly lower in OB and OW compared to NBMI patients. Peak VO2 in L·min-1 was significantly higher in OB and OW patients than in NBMI patients. CET time was not different across BMI classes (p = 0.11). Changes in lung volumes and dyspnea during CET were not different between BMI categories.


OB and OW patients with COPD had a higher peak VO2 than their lean counterparts. Endurance time, dyspnea and changes in lung volumes during CET were similar between BMI categories.