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Effect of transdermal nicotine administration on exercise endurance in men

Mündel, Toby and Jones, David A. (2006) Effect of transdermal nicotine administration on exercise endurance in men. Experimental physiology, 91 (4). pp. 705-713. ISSN 0958-0670

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Abstract

Nicotine is widely reported to increase alertness, improve co-ordination and enhance cognitive performance; however, to our knowledge there have been no attempts to replicate these findings in relation to exercise endurance. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects nicotine might have on cycling endurance, perception of exertion and a range of physiological variables. With local ethics committee approval and having obtained informed consent, 12 healthy, non-smoking men (22 ± 3 years; maximal O2 uptake, 56 ± 6 ml kg1 min1, mean ±s.d.) cycled to exhaustion at 18°C and 65% of their peak aerobic power, wearing either a 7 mg transdermal nicotine patch (NIC) or a colour-matched placebo (PLA) in a randomized cross-over design; water was available ad libitum. Subjects were exercising at approximately 75% of their maximal O2 uptake with no differences in cadence between trials. Ten out of 12 subjects cycled for longer with NIC administration, and this resulted in a significant 17 ± 7% improvement in performance (P< 0.05). No differences were observed for perceived exertion, heart rate or ventilation. There were no differences in concentrations of plasma glucose, lactate or circulating fatty acids. In the absence of any effect on peripheral markers, we conclude that nicotine prolongs endurance by a central mechanism. Possible modes of action are suggested.

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