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Volume 34 (2024): Issue 3 (May 2024)

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Volume 36 (2024): Issue 2 (May 2024)

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Brazilian Women in Paralympic Sports: Uncovering Historical Milestones in the Summer Paralympic Games

Luiz Gustavo T. Fabricio dos Santos, Isabella dos Santos Alves, Náthali Fernanda Feliciano, Africa Alejandra Ortuño Torres, Luis Felipe Castelli Correia de Campos, and Maria Luiza Tanure Alves

The journey of Brazilian female Paralympians transcends mere statistical increases in women’s participation. Behind the modest athlete growth lies the reality of women who are doubly marginalized by the intersection of gender and disability in an arena tailored for able-bodied men. Our study aimed to catalyze critical discourses surrounding the historical trajectory of Paralympic women’s sports. Through a comprehensive documentary analysis based on the Brazilian Paralympic Committee’s official documents from 1976 to 2021, we sought to shed light on this complex scenario. Numerically, Brazil’s representation comprised 229 women who, predominantly, had physical impairments and engaged in individual sports. In addition to a sporting legacy deeply entrenched in physical rehabilitation with limited opportunities for team-based sports, we observed negative influences stemming from ableist and sexist narratives. A thorough investigation into Paralympic milestones revealed a multitude of social barriers and highlighted the significant impact of societal changes in reshaping athletic opportunities and challenging traditional stereotypes.

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Omega-3 Status Evaluation in Australian Female Rugby League Athletes: Ad Libitum Fish Oil Provision Results in a Varied Omega-3 Index

Ryan Anthony, Nicola Jaffrey, Caitlin Byron, Gregory E. Peoples, and Michael J. Macartney

Optimal omega-3 status, influenced by increased intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is vital for physiological health. This study investigated the impact of ad libitum fish oil supplementation on the omega-3 status of female athletes in a professional rugby league team during a competitive season. Twenty-four (n = 24) athletes participated, and their omega-3 status was assessed using the Omega-3 Index (O3I) and arachidonic acid (AA) to EPA ratio through finger-prick blood samples taken at the start and end of the season. They were given access to a fish oil supplement (PILLAR Performance, Australia) with a recommended daily dose of four capsules per day (2,160 mg EPA and 1,440 mg docosahexaenoic acid). At the beginning of the season, the group mean O3I was 4.77% (95% confidence interval [CI: 4.50, 5.04]) and the AA to EPA ratio was 14.89 (95% CI [13.22, 16.55]). None of the athletes had an O3I exceeding 8%. By the season’s end, the O3I was a significantly increased to 7.28% (95% CI [6.64, 7.93], p < .0001) and AA to EPA ratio significantly decreased to a mean of 6.67 (95% CI [5.02, 8.31], p < .0001), driven primarily by the significant increase in EPA of +1.14% (95% CI [0.77, 1.51], p < .0001). However, these changes were varied between the athletes and most likely due to compliance. This study has demonstrated that using the objective O3I feedback scale is possible with elite female rugby athletes, but individual strategies will be required to achieve daily intake targets of EPA + DHA.

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“You Are Not Wrong About Getting Strong:” An Insight Into the Impact of Age Group and Level of Competition on Strength in Spanish Football Players

Marcos A. Soriano, Víctor Paredes, Paul Comfort, Ester Jiménez-Ormeño, Francisco Areces-Corcuera, Verónica Giráldez-Costas, César Gallo-Salazar, Diego A. Alonso-Aubín, María Menchén-Rubio, and John J. McMahon

Objective: This study aimed to compare the maximum and rapid force production of Spanish football players and explore the differences between age group and level of competition. Methods: A cross-sectional study was developed to evaluate the peak force (PF), relative PF, and rate of force development over 250 ms (RFD0−250) during the isometric midthigh pull between groups of football players based on age group (senior vs junior) and level of competition (national vs regional). Using a portable isometric rig, 111 football players performed 2 isometric midthigh-pull trials on a force plate. Two-way analysis of variance with Bonferroni post hoc correction was applied, and statistical significance was set at P ≤ .05. The PF, relative PF, and RFD0−250 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100 percentiles were also calculated and descriptively reported, separated by age group and level of competition. Results: The analysis of variance revealed a significant main effect of the level of competition for the PF (P < .001), relative PF (P = .003), and RFD0−250 (P < .001). There was a significant main effect of age group for the PF (P < .001). There was a significant interaction effect of the age group × level of competition for relative PF (P = .014). National players were stronger than regional players on the PF and RFD0−250 (P < .001). Senior players were stronger than junior players for the PF (P < .001). Conclusions: Maximum and rapid force production are crucial for Spanish football players as they progress in both level of competition and age group. Practitioners should encourage young football players to prioritize strength development to improve their athletic performance.

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Examining Ableism Through the Physical Activity Experiences of Blind and Visually Impaired Women

Lindsey E. Ball and Justin A. Haegele

Purpose: This study examined how ableism influences blind and visually impaired women’s experiences accessing and engaging in exercise, physical activity, and sport. Methods: Ten women between the ages of 27 and 45 years completed a one-on-one audio-recorded virtual interview where they reflected on the meaningfulness of their exercise, physical activity, and/or sport experiences, as well as described any experiences related to direct, indirect, systemic, or internalized ableism within or when attempting to access those physical activity experiences. The interview transcripts were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Findings: The analysis resulted in the construction of 2 themes that depicted the participants’ experiences: (1) “It’s exhausting”: navigating inaccessibility and (2) “You feel like a fish out of water”: internalized ableism. Discussion: The themes highlight the participants’ experiences which were largely focused on being forced to navigate inaccessible environments which resulted in exhaustion and expressions of internalized ableism. These findings provide insight into what makes and does not make a physical activity space accessible and welcoming for blind and visually impaired adults.

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Barriers to Participation in Organized Physical Activity Among LGBTQ+ Youth: Differences by Sexual, Gender, and Racial Identities

Benjamin Parchem, Jonathan Poquiz, Ryan L. Rahm-Knigge, Elizabeth Panetta, Ryan J. Watson, and G. Nic Rider

Background: LGBTQ+ youth engage in organized physical activity to a lesser degree than their cisgender and heterosexual counterparts. Existing literature on this organized physical activity disparity is limited, particularly with LGBTQ+ youth samples. The current analysis examined individual and systemic barriers to organized physical activity for LGBTQ+ youth across sexual, gender, and racial identities. Methods: A subsample of LGBTQ+ students (N = 4566) from the 2021 Dane County Youth Assessment completed items that measured barriers to organized physical activity and systemic factors (ie, family money problems and bias-based bullying) associated with access to organized physical activity. Latent class analysis discerned patterns of individual and systemic barriers to organized physical activity. Latent class regression modeling tested gender, sexual, and racial identities as correlates of latent class membership. Results: More than half of the sample did not participate in organized physical activity. Four profiles of LGBTQ+ youth were discerned based on self-reported barriers: high barrier (8%), bullied (16%), low interest or perceived skills (28%), and low barrier (48%). The low-barrier class included a greater proportion of LGBTQ+ youth who identified as White, or cisgender, or heterosexual as well as youth self-reporting higher organized physical activity. The high-barrier and bullied classes comprised more marginalized gender and sexual identities. Conclusions: LGBTQ+ youth experience individual and systemic barriers to organized physical activity, including inequitable access and bullying, and barriers are uniquely experienced across sexual, gender, and racial identities. Physical activity promotion among LGBTQ+ youth would be strengthened by policies that address inequitable access to opportunities and bias-based bullying.

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Peak Performance: Characteristics and Key Factors in the Development of the World Top-8 Swimmers Based on Longitudinal Data

Yuming Chen, Chenbin Huang, Hui Chen, Ting Huang, Christine Su, and Jiexing Chen

Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the peak performance characteristics of the world top-8 swimmers and the key factors involved in the journey toward achieving better peak performance. Methods: The results of the world top-8 swimmers from 2001 to 2022 were collected from the World Aquatics performance database. Progression to peak performance was tracked with individual quadratic trajectories (1191 cases). Utilizing k-means clustering to group competitive feature variables, this study investigated key developmental factors through a binary logistic regression model, using the odds ratio (OR) to represent whether a factor was favorable (OR > 1) or unfavorable (OR < 1). Results: Significant differences (P < .001) in the peak age between men (23.54/3.80) and women (22.31/4.60) were noticed, while no significant differences (P > .05) in the peak-performance window for both sexes appeared. Peak performance occurred at later ages for the sprint for both sexes, and women had a longer duration in peak-performance window for sprint (P < .05). Peak-performance occurred at later ages for the breaststroke and butterfly for both sexes (P < .05). Binary logistic regression revealed that high first-participation performance (OR = 1.502), high major-competition performance (OR = 4.165), early first-major-competition age (OR = 1.441), participation frequency above 4 times/year in both phase 2 (4.3–8.0 times/y, OR = 3.940; 8.1–20.0 times/y, OR = 5.122) and phase 3 (4.1–7.5 times/y: OR = 5.548; 7.7–15.0 times/y: OR = 7.526), and a career length of 10 years or more (10–15 y, OR = 2.102; 16–31 y, OR = 3.480) were favorable factors for achieving better peak performance. Conclusions: Peak performance characteristics varied across sex, swimming stroke, and race distance in the world top-8 swimmers. Meanwhile, the research indicated that certain specific developmental factors were key conditions for the world top-8 swimmers to achieve better peak performance in the future.

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The Role of Physical Literacy in the Association Between Weather and Physical Activity: A Longitudinal Multilevel Analysis With 951 Children

Johannes Carl, Paulina S. Melby, Mette L. Kurtzhals, Glen Nielsen, Peter Bentsen, and Peter Elsborg

Background: Numerous studies showed an effect of weather on physical activity (PA) levels in children. However, no study has yet examined the relevance of personal factors in this relationship. Therefore, this study analyzes (1) whether there are systematic interindividual differences in the extent to which weather affects the PA behavior and (2) whether physical literacy (PL) moderates the weather–PA association in children. Methods: A total of 951 children in 12 Danish schools (age 9.76 [1.59] y; 54.3% girls) completed objective PA assessments via accelerometry (moderate to vigorous PA, light PA, and sedentary behavior). Local weather data (precipitation, wind speed, temperature, and sunshine duration) were provided by the Danish Meteorological Institute. Participants’ PL was measured employing the Danish version of the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy-2. The 4116 accelerometer days underwent longitudinal multilevel analyses while considering their nesting into pupils and school classes (n = 51). Results: Fluctuations in all PA indicators were significantly explained by variations in weather conditions, especially precipitation (P ≤ .035). Significant interindividual differences were found for 9 of 12 analytical dimensions, suggesting that weather changes influence PA behavior differently across individuals (especially moderate to vigorous PA, χ2[4] ≥ 11.5, P ≤ .021). However, PL moderated the relationship between weather and PA in only 2 of the 48 analytical constellations. Conclusions: Despite the varying impact of weather on PA across individuals, the present study favors a main effect model in which weather and PL exert independent effects on children’s PA. The insufficient support for PL as a moderating factor calls for future studies to test alternative mechanisms in the weather–PA association.

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Walking Activity and Physical Function Among Mexican American Older Adults Over 9 Years of Follow Up

Nicholas Tahmassi and Soham Al Snih

Background: Walking activity has been associated with reduction in the development of chronic disease, cognitive and physical function impairment, disability, and mortality. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between walking activity and physical function over 9 years of follow-up among Mexican Americans aged 78 years and older. Methods: Participants (N = 998) were from the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (2007–2016). Measures included walking activity duration and frequency, socio-demographics, body mass index, medical conditions, pain, depressive symptoms, limitation in activities of daily living, and the Mini-Mental State Examination. Low physical function was defined as scoring <7 on the Short Physical Performance Battery. At baseline, participants were grouped into nonwalkers (n = 653), walked <150 minutes/week (n = 144), and walked 150 minutes/week or more (n = 201). A Generalized Estimating Equation model was used to estimate the odds ratio and 95% CI of low physical performance as a function of walking activity status. Results: Compared with nonwalkers, participants walking < 150 minutes/week had lower odds (odds ratio = 0.66, 95% CI, 0.51–0.86) of low physical function over time, after controlling for all covariates, as did those walking ≥ 150 minutes/week (odds ratio = 0.54, 95% CI, 0.41–0.71). Conclusions: Mexican American older adults who engage in any walking activity are at reduced risk of low physical function, even those with disability. Interventions at the individual and community level are recommended to reduce physical function impairment, even in those with preexisting medical conditions or disability.