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Postexercise recovery is a fundamental component for continuous performance enhancement. Due to physiological and morphological changes in aging and alterations in performance capacity, athletes of different ages may recover at different rates from physical exercise. Differences in body composition, physiological function, and exercise performance between men and women may also have a direct influence on restoration processes. Purpose: This brief review examines current research to indicate possible differences in recovery processes between male and female athletes of different age groups. The paper focuses on postexercise recovery following sprint and endurance tests and tries to identify determinants that modulate possible differences in recovery between male and female subjects of different age groups. Results: The literature analysis indicates age- and sex-dependent differences in short- and long-term recovery. Short-term recovery differs among children, adults, and masters. Children have shorter lactate half-life and a faster cardiac and respiratory recovery compared to adults. Additionally, children and masters require shorter recovery periods during interval bouts than trained adults. Trained women show a slower cardiac and respiratory recovery compared to trained men. Long-term recovery is strongly determined by the extent of muscle damage. Trained adults tend to have more extensive muscle damage compared to masters and children. Conclusion: The influence of age and sex on the recovery process varies among the different functional systems and depends on the time of the recovery processes. Irrespective of age and sex, the performance capacity of the individual determines the recovery process after high-intensity and endurance exercise.
Hottenrott, Schneider, Wiewelhove, and Ferrauti are with the Faculty of Sport Science, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany. Ketelhut is with the Inst of Sport Science, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany.