Nicotine effects on exercise performance and physiological responses in nicotine-naïve individuals: a systematic review

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Abstract

The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the effects of smokeless forms of nicotine on physiological responses and exercise performance. Methodology and reporting were based on the PRISMA statement. The intervention was defined as any product containing nicotine that did not require smoking. Searches were conducted across two electronic databases with supplementary approaches utilized. Studies were selected following set inclusion and exclusion criteria and checked by two independent authors. A modified PEDro scale was utilized to rate study quality with studies averaging 9·3/13. Six studies assessed exercise performance with endurance-based parameters reported as significantly improved with nicotine in one study, while anaerobic parameters were unaffected or decreased compared to placebo except in one study which reported enhanced leg extensor torque but no effect on countermovement jump or Wingate anaerobic capacity. Sixteen of 28 studies investigating physiological responses reported that nicotine significantly increased heart rate compared to placebo or control. Blood pressure and blood flow were also reported as significantly increased in multiple studies. While there is strong evidence of nicotine-induced changes in physiological function that would benefit physical performance, beneficial effects have only been reported on leg extensor torque and endurance performance by one study each. Subsequently, there is need for more research with strong methodological quality to definitively evaluate nicotine's potential as an ergogenic aid.

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