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Impact of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction on athletic performance and airway health in rugby union players

Ingle, Lee; Greenwell, Jon; Spiteri, Danica Bonello


Jon Greenwell

Danica Bonello Spiteri


Background: There is emerging evidence that the prevalence of exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) is significantly under-reported in many sports. There is little known about the potential performance improvement that may exist when sports players are detected and treated for EIB. Methods: Semi-professional rugby union players with no previous history of asthma volunteered to participate in the study. Each player performed the rugby football union (RFU) fitness test and completed a eucapnic voluntary hyperpnoea (EVH) challenge at baseline and 12 weeks later. A player with a positive EVH result was prescribed beclomethasone inhaler (200 µg; two puffs per day) for 12 weeks. Players with a negative EVH test were randomly allocated to either a placebo inhaler group or acted as controls. Results: Twenty nine rugby union players (mean ± SD; age 22.1± 4.2 years; body mass 100.1± 6.9 kg; stature 1.84± 0.07 m) were recruited. Seven players (24% of total) had a positive EVH challenge with a mean decrease in FEV1 of -13.6 ±3.5 % from baseline. There was no significant group difference (P=0.359) in performance improvement of the RFU fitness test between the EVH positive group (mean Δ: -22.3 seconds; 8.0 ± 2.8% improvement), placebo group (mean Δ: -16.5 seconds; 6.7 ± 1.6% improvement), and controls (mean Δ: -12.2 seconds; 5.7 ± 3.5% improvement). Conclusion: Prevalence of EIB in semi-professional rugby union players was 24%. A 12-week prescription of beclomethasone (200 µg) showed similar improvements in RFU fitness test performance in players diagnosed with EIB compared to players with healthy airway responsiveness.


Ingle, L., Greenwell, J., & Spiteri, D. B. (2014). Impact of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction on athletic performance and airway health in rugby union players. International sportmed journal for FIMS ISMJ, 15(4), 333-342

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2014
Publication Date 2014-12
Deposit Date Dec 16, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal International sportmed journal
Electronic ISSN 1528-3356
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 4
Pages 333-342
Keywords Screening, Asthma, Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, Athletic performance
Public URL
Additional Information This is the description of an article published in International sportmed journal, 2014, v.15 issue 4.


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