Nidhal Gharbawi

2016 AFPGR Participant


The relationship between respiratory muscle strength and exercise in primary school children in Leicestershire
About Nidhal

Nidhal is a PhD student in the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, supervised by Dr Caroline Beardsmore. Nidhal graduated with an MSc in Biology from the University of Baghdad in 2008, having previously graduated with a BSc in B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Wassit in 2005

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About My Research

There is growing evidence that there are differences in lung function between people of different ethnic origins, and some groups have bigger lungs and can blow out harder than others. A study of these differences is an important, because if a child from one ethnic group is being assessed against predicted values from another, there is potential for mis-diagnosis and misclassification. In some ethnic groups, differences are related to variations in body proportions. Within Leicester, the largest ethnic minority groups have their origins in the Indian subcontinent. They have lower levels of lung function than the white population, but the differences do not appear to relate to either socioeconomic status or body proportions. This project seeks to investigate whether the differences that exist between white and south Asian children can be attributed to differences in respiratory muscle strength (assessed using maximum respiratory pressures) or elastic recoil. I have investigated effects of physical activity and on lung function, respiratory muscle strength and elastic recoil using questionnaires. This project has been conducted with children because they are less likely to have had occupational exposures or indulged in activities that might influence muscle strength such as body building or extensive sporting activities.

About My Festival Presentation

 Few studies relate respiratory muscle strength to physical activity in healthy children. One study reports that boys aged 7-8y who swim have larger maximum respiratory pressures than those who are sedentary. (Santos et al Physiother Theory Pract 2012:28:26-31). Data in healthy children, over a wider age range are lacking.

I sought to determine the relationship between respiratory muscle strength and exercise in healthy children. I measured spirometry, height and weight and respiratory muscle strength by measuring maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressure (MIP and MEP) in children aged 5-11 in their primary schools. A questionnaire determined which children engaged in exercise (defined as regularly spending more than 10 minutes at a time in vigorous physical activity).

Research Findings
  • One hundred seventy–five children were studied. I have obtained MIP on 124 children (44 reported no exercise) and MEP on 138 (46 no exercise).
  • MIP & MEP were higher in boys than in girls (p=0.002, p=0.0003) respectively 
  • No significant differences were detected in MIP & MEP between boys who do exercise and boys who do not (p=0.20, p=0.09) respectively.
  • Girls who exercise have greater inspiratory muscle strength (MIP) compared to those who do not (p=0.0004).  
  • No significant difference was detected in MEP between girls who do exercise and girls who do not (p=0.09).

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