Introduction: Some studies suggest individuals born preterm have reduced exercise capacity. The pathophysiology of exercise limitation following preterm birth remains unclear and may be a consequence of impairment of systems responsible for oxygen delivery and consumption; cardiovascular, pulmonary and muscular systems. We aimed to evaluate and compare changes in cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness pre/post a 14-week supervised exercise intervention in adults born preterm (PT) vs. term (T).
Methods: The proposed sample consists of 21 PT (<29 weeks of gestation) and 36 T. They underwent a cardiovascular and resistance training program three times/week. Pre- and post-intervention assessments included cardiopulmonary (VO2max) and muscular testing (endurance, strength and flexibility). Descriptive statistics were calculated as mean ± standard deviation. Repeated-measure ANOVA were used for time and group comparison with p≤0.05 considered for significance.
Results: Prior to intervention, strength [grip strength: PT: 55.8±19.8 vs T: 69.2±22.9kg (p=0.037); vertical jump: PT: 27.3±11.4 vs T: 48.1±22cm (p=0.001)], flexibility [PT: 22.2±11.7 vs T: 32.3±9.7cm (p=0.002)] and FEV1/CVF ratio [PT: 77.4±6.7 vs T: 82.8±6.8% (p=0.011)] of PT and T were different. Both PT and T improved their muscle endurance [push-ups: PT: 13.3±9.7 à 19.1±11.5 repetitions (p=0.008) and T: 12.2±7.1 to 16.7±8.8 repetitions (p=0.001); sit-ups PT: 16.9±18.6 to 25.4±20.7 repetitions (p=0.041) and T: 24.2±16.9 to 29.2±17.3 repetitions (p=0,191)], their strength of the lower body [vertical jump; PT: 27,3±11,4 to 30,8±15,5cm (p=0,079) and T: 48,1±22 to 5.7±21cm (p=0.005)] and their VO2max [P: 27.6±7.4 to 33.1±6.9ml\min*kg (p=0.001) and T: 29.2±7.3 to 33±7ml\min*kg, (p=0.000)], without differences between groups. Differences in muscle function were no longer observed between PT and T following the intervention.
Conclusion: Terms have a better skeletal muscle profile initially. An intervention through physical activity allows cardiorespiratory and muscular improvement in PT and represents a non-pharmacological measure to be promoted in this at-risk population in order to avoid long-term morbidity.
Amy Al-Simaani– Master Student in biomedical sciences, University of Montréal
Camille Girard-Bock– PhD Candidate, University of Montréal
Anik Cloutier– Research Associate, CHU Sainte-Justine research center
Anne Monique Nuyt– Full Time Professor, Department of Pediatrics, and neonatologist, CHU Sainte-Justine
Marie-eve Mathieu– professor in physical activity sciences, University of Montréal
Thuy Mai Luu– Clinician-scientist and Pediatrician, CHU Sainte-Justine