Background: Given the potential risk of unhealthy weight management, the monitoring of body composition in athletes is advised. However, limited data reveal how body composition measurements can benefit athlete health and, in particular, respiratory function. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of body composition on pulmonary function in a population of adult athletes. Methods: Data from 435 competitive adult athletes regarding body compositions parameters and spirometry are retrospectively analyzed. Results: Our study population consists of 335 males and 100 female athletes. Muscle mass and fat-free mass are significantly and positively associated with forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) in the male and female population, while waist-to-height ratio is negatively associated with FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC in the male population. In multivariable analysis, muscle mass and fat-free mass show significant association with FEV1 and FVC in both males and females (p < 0.05), and waist-to-height ratio is significantly and inversely associated with FEV1 and FVC in males (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Fat-free mass and muscle mass are positively and independently associated with FEV1 and FVC in athletes of both genders, and waist-to-height ratio is inversely associated with FEV1 and FVC only among male athletes. These findings suggest that body composition in athletes may be helpful in monitoring respiratory function.
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