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Helen T. Douda, Argyris G. Toubekis, Alexandra A. Avloniti and Savvas P. Tokmakidis

Purpose:

To identify the physiological and anthropometric predictors of rhythmic gymnastics performance, which was defined from the total ranking score of each athlete in a national competition.

Methods:

Thirty-four rhythmic gymnasts were divided into 2 groups, elite (n = 15) and nonelite (n = 19), and they underwent a battery of anthropometric, physical fitness, and physiological measurements. The principal-components analysis extracted 6 components: anthropometric, flexibility, explosive strength, aerobic capacity, body dimensions, and anaerobic metabolism. These were used in a simultaneous multiple-regression procedure to determine which best explain the variance in rhythmic gymnastics performance.

Results:

Based on the principal-component analysis, the anthropometric component explained 45% of the total variance, flexibility 12.1%, explosive strength 9.2%, aerobic capacity 7.4%, body dimensions 6.8%, and anaerobic metabolism 4.6%. Components of anthropometric (r = .50) and aerobic capacity (r = .49) were significantly correlated with performance (P < .01). When the multiple-regression model—y = 10.708 + (0.0005121 × VO2 max) + (0.157 × arm span) + (0.814 × midthigh circumference) - (0.293 × body mass)—was applied to elite gymnasts, 92.5% of the variation was explained by VO2max (58.9%), arm span (12%), midthigh circumference (13.1%), and body mass (8.5%).

Conclusion:

Selected anthropometric characteristics, aerobic power, flexibility, and explosive strength are important determinants of successful performance. These findings might have practical implications for both training and talent identification in rhythmic gymnastics.

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Argyris G. Toubekis, Argiro Tsolaki, Ilias Smilios, Helen T. Douda, Thomas Kourtesis and Savvas P. Tokmakidis

Purpose:

To examine the effects of active and passive recovery of various durations after a 100-m swimming test performed at maximal effort.

Methods:

Eleven competitive swimmers (5 males, 6 females, age: 17.3 ± 0.6 y) completed two 100-m tests with a 15-min interval at a maximum swimming effort under three experimental conditions. The recovery between tests was 15 min passive (PAS), 5 min active, and 10 min passive (5ACT) or 10 min active and 5 min passive (10ACT). Self-selected active recovery started immediately after the first test, corresponding to 60 ± 5% of the 100-m time. Blood samples were taken at rest, 5, 10, and 15 min after the first as well as 5 min after the second 100-m test for blood lactate determination. Heart rate was also recorded during the corresponding periods.

Results:

Performance time of the first 100 m was not different between conditions (P > .05). The second 100-m test after the 5ACT (64.49 ± 3.85 s) condition was faster than 10ACT (65.49 ± 4.63 s) and PAS (65.89 ± 4.55 s) conditions (P < .05). Blood lactate during the 15-min recovery period between the 100-m efforts was lower in both active recovery conditions compared with passive recovery (P < .05). Heart rate was higher during the 5ACT and 10ACT conditions compared with PAS during the 15-min recovery period (P < .05).

Conclusion:

Five minutes of active recovery during a 15-min interval period is adequate to facilitate blood lactate removal and enhance performance in swimmers. Passive recovery and/or 10 min of active recovery is not recommended.

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Helen T. Douda, Konstantina V. Kosmidou, Ilias Smilios, Konstantinos A. Volaklis and Savvas P. Tokmakidis

This five-year follow-up nonrandomized controlled study evaluated community-based training and detraining on body composition and functional ability in older women. Forty-two volunteers (64.3 ± 5.1 years) were divided into four groups: aerobic training, strength training, combined aerobic and strength, and control. Body composition and physical fitness were measured at baseline, after nine months of training and after three months of detraining every year. After five years of training, body fat decreased, and fat free mass, strength, and chair test performance increased (p < .05) in all training groups. Training-induced favorable adaptations were reversed during detraining but, eventually, training groups presented better values than the control group even after detraining. Thus, nine months of annual training, during a five-year period, induced favorable adaptations on body composition, muscular strength, and functional ability in older women. Three months of detraining, however, changed the favorable adaptations and underlined the need for uninterrupted exercise throughout life.

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Alexandra A. Avloniti, Helen T. Douda, Savvas P. Tokmakidis, Alexandros H. Kortsaris, Evropi G. Papadopoulou and Emmanouil G. Spanoudakis

Purpose:

To investigate the acute changes in leukocyte number and cortisol after a single bout of soccer training.

Methods:

Ten elite female national-team soccer players and 8 nonathletes participated in the study. The duration of the exercise was 2 h, and it was performed at an intensity of 75% of maximal heart rate (HRmax). Blood samples were taken before, immediately after, and 4 h after a soccer training session to determine total white blood cells; the subsets of neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils; and cortisol. At the same time, blood samples were obtained from nonathletes who refrained from exercise.

Results:

Data analysis indicated a significant increase in total white blood cells in the athletes postexercise (P < .001). The leukocytosis was still evident after 4 h of recovery (78% higher than the preexercise values), and there was a significant difference between athletes and nonathletes (P < .001). This leukocytosis was primarily caused by neutrophilia—there were no significant differences in lymphocytes after the end of exercise or between the 2 groups (P > 0.05). In addition, there was a statistically significant difference in cortisol concentration between athletes and nonathletes after the exercise (P < .001).

Conclusion:

These findings revealed that the single bout of soccer training at an intensity of 75% of HRmax induced leukocytosis without affecting the lymphocyte count in elite female athletes and probably the effectiveness of cellular components of adaptive immunity. Coaches should provide adequate time (>4 h) until the next exercise session.