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Ronald J. Maughan, Susan M. Shirreffs and Alan Vernec

The use of dietary supplements is widespread among athletes in all sports and at all levels of competition, as it is in the general population. For the athlete training at the limits of what is sustainable, or for those seeking a shortcut to achieving their aims, supplements offer the prospect of bridging the gap between success and failure. Surveys show, however, that this is often not an informed choice and that the knowledge level among consumers is often low and that they are often influenced in their decisions by individuals with an equally inadequate understanding of the issues at stake. Supplement use may do more harm than good, unless it is based on a sound analysis of the evidence. Where a deficiency of an essential nutrient has been established by appropriate investigations, supplementation can provide a rapid and effective correction of the problem. Supplements can also provide a convenient and time-efficient solution to achieving the necessary intake of key nutrients such as protein and carbohydrate. Athletes contemplating the use of supplements should consider the potential for both positive and negative outcomes. Some ergogenic supplements may be of benefit to some athletes in some specific contexts, but many are less effective than is claimed. Some may be harmful to health of performance and some may contain agents prohibited by anti-doping regulations. Athletes should make informed choices that maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks.

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Mindy L. Millard-Stafford, Kirk J. Cureton, Jonathan E. Wingo, Jennifer Trilk, Gordon L. Warren and Maxime Buyckx

Caffeine is regarded as a diuretic despite evidence that hydration is not impaired with habitual ingestion. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a caffeinated sports drink impairs fluid delivery and hydration during exercise in warm, humid conditions (28.5 °C, 60% relative humidity). Sixteen cyclists completed 3 trials: placebo (P), carbohydrate-electrolyte (CE), and caffeinated (195 mg/L) sports drink (CAF+CE). Subjects cycled for 120 min at 60–75%VO2max followed by 15 min of maximal-effort cycling. Heart rate and rectal temperature were similar until the final 15 min, when these responses and exercise intensity were higher with CAF+CE than with CE and P. Sweat rate, urine output, plasma-volume losses, serum electrolytes, and blood deuterium-oxide accumulation were not different. Serum osmolality was higher with CAF+CE vs. P but not CE. The authors conclude that CAF+CE appears as rapidly in blood as CE and maintains hydration and sustains cardiovascular and thermoregulatory function as well as CE during exercise in a warm, humid environment.

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Alessandro Moura Zagatto, Jorge Vieira de Mello Leite, Marcelo Papoti and Ralph Beneke

Purpose:

To test the hypotheses that the metabolic profile of table tennis is dominantly aerobic, anaerobic energy is related to the accumulated duration and intensity of rallies, and activity and metabolic profile are interrelated with the individual fitness profile determined via table tennis–specific tests.

Methods:

Eleven male experienced table tennis players (22 ± 3 y, 77.6 ± 18.9 kg, 177.1 ± 8.1 cm) underwent 2 simulated table tennis matches to analyze aerobic (WOXID) energy, anaerobic glycolytic (WBLC) energy, and phosphocreatine breakdown (WPCr); a table tennis–specific graded exercise test to measure ventilatory threshold and peak oxygen uptake; and an exhaustive supramaximal table tennis effort to determine maximal accumulated deficit of oxygen.

Results:

WOXID, WBLC, and WPCr corresponded to 96.5% ± 1.7%, 1.0% ± 0.7%, and 2.5% ± 1.4%, respectively. WOXID was interrelated with rally duration (r = .81) and number of shots per rally (r = .77), whereas match intensity was correlated with WPCr (r = .62) and maximal accumulated oxygen deficit (r = .58).

Conclusions:

The metabolic profile of table tennis is predominantly aerobic and interrelated with the individual fitness profile determined via table tennis–specific tests. Table tennis–specific ventilatory threshold determines the average oxygen uptake and overall WOXID, whereas table tennis–specific maximal accumulated oxygen deficit indicates the ability to use and sustain slightly higher blood lactate concentration and WBLC during the match.

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Marcin Baranowski, Jan Górski, Barbara Klapcinska, Zbigniew Waskiewicz and Ewa Sadowska-Krepa

We have previously shown that acute exercise increases the level of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in plasma and ceramide in erythrocytes of untrained subjects. The aim of the current study was to examine the effect of ultramarathon run on the plasma and erythrocyte levels of the following bioactive sphingolipids: S1P, sphinganine-1-phosphate (SA1P), sphingosine, sphinganine, and ceramide. Blood samples were collected from seven male amateur runners participating in a 48-hr ultramarathon race before the run, after 24 and 48 hr of running, and following 24 and 48 hr of recovery. The sphingolipids were quantified by means of HPLC. Sustained running for 48 hr resulted in a progressive decline in plasma S1P to a level significantly lower than at prerace, and then remained stable over the next 48 hr of recovery. In erythrocytes, S1P content was stable until 24 hr of recovery, then rose abruptly to reach peak values after 48 hr of recovery. The plasma level of SA1P decreased progressively during the competition and remained unchanged over the recovery. In erythrocytes, the level of SA1P increased after 24 hr running and normalized thereafter. The level of ceramide, both in plasma and erythrocytes, was not significantly affected by the ultraendurance run. We speculate that reduction in plasma level of S1P during and after the run reduces its biological actions and might be responsible for some negative side-effects of the ultraendurance effort.

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Jace A. Delaney, Heidi R. Thornton, Grant M. Duthie and Ben J. Dascombe

Background:

Rugby league coaches adopt replacement strategies for their interchange players to maximize running intensity; however, it is important to understand the factors that may influence match performance.

Purpose:

To assess the independent factors affecting running intensity sustained by interchange players during professional rugby league.

Methods:

Global positioning system (GPS) data were collected from all interchanged players (starters and nonstarters) in a professional rugby league squad across 24 matches of a National Rugby League season. A multilevel mixed-model approach was employed to establish the effect of various technical (attacking and defensive involvements), temporal (bout duration, time in possession, etc), and situational (season phase, recovery cycle, etc) factors on the relative distance covered and average metabolic power (Pmet) during competition. Significant effects were standardized using correlation coefficients, and the likelihood of the effect was described using magnitude-based inferences.

Results:

Superior intermittent running ability resulted in very likely large increases in both relative distance and Pmet. As the length of a bout increased, both measures of running intensity exhibited a small decrease. There were at least likely small increases in running intensity for matches played after short recovery cycles and against strong opposition. During a bout, the number of collision-based involvements increased running intensity, whereas time in possession and ball time out of play decreased demands.

Conclusions:

These data demonstrate a complex interaction of individual- and match-based factors that require consideration when developing interchange strategies, and the manipulation of training loads during shorter recovery periods and against stronger opponents may be beneficial.

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Jeanne Dekerle and James Paterson

Purpose:

To examine muscle fatigue of the shoulder internal rotators alongside swimming biomechanics during long-duration submaximal swimming sets performed in 2 different speed domains.

Methods:

Eight trained swimmers (mean ± SD 20.5 ± 0.9 y, 173 ± 10 cm, 71.3 ± 10.0 kg) raced over 3 distances (200-, 400-, 800-m races) for determination of critical speed (CS; slope of the distance–time relationship). After a familiarization with muscle isokinetic testing, they subsequently randomly performed 2 constant-speed efforts (6 × 5-min blocks, 2.5-min recovery) 5% above (T105) and 5% below CS (T95) with maximal voluntary contractions recorded between swimming blocks.

Results:

Capillary blood lactate concentration ([La]), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), peak torque, stroke length, and stroke rate were maintained throughout T95 (P < .05). [La], RPE, and stroke rate increased alongside concomitant decreases in maximal torque and stroke length during T105 (P < .05) with incapacity of the swimmers to maintain the pace for longer than ~20 min. For T105, changes in maximal torque (35.0 ± 14.9 to 25.8 ± 12.1 Nm) and stroke length (2.66 ± 0.36 to 2.23 ± 0.24 m/cycle) were significantly correlated (r = .47, P < .05).

Conclusion:

While both muscle fatigue (shoulder internal rotators) and task failure occur when swimming at a pace greater than CS, the 2.5-min recovery period during the sub-CS set possibly alleviated the development of muscle fatigue for the pace to be sustainable for 6 × 5 min at 95% of CS. A causal relationship between reduction in stroke length and loss of muscle strength should be considered very cautiously in swimming.

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Martin D. Hoffman and Carol A. Parise

Purpose:

This work longitudinally assesses the influence of aging and experience on time to complete 161-km ultramarathons.

Methods:

From 29,331 finishes by 4066 runners who had completed 3 or more 161-km ultramarathons in North America from 1974 through 2010, independent cohorts of men (n = 3,092), women (n = 717), and top-performing men (n = 257) based on age-group finish place were identified. Linear mixed-effects regression was used to assess the effects of aging and previous 161-km finish number on finish time adjusted for the random effects of runner, event, and year.

Results:

Men and women up to 38 y of age slowed by 0.05–0.06 h/y with advancing age. Men slowed 0.17 h/y from 38 through 50 y and 0.23 h/y after 50 y. Women slowed 0.20–0.23 h/y with advancing age from 38 y. Top-performing men under 38 y did not slow with increasing age but slowed by 0.26 and 0.39 h/y from 38 through 50 y and after 50 y, respectively. Finish number was inversely associated with finish time for all 3 cohorts. A 10th or higher finish was 1.3, 1.7, and almost 3 h faster than a first finish for men, women, and top-performing men, respectively.

Conclusions:

High-level performances in 161-km ultramarathoners can be sustained late into the 4th decade of life, but subsequent aging is associated with declines in performance. Nevertheless, the adverse effects of aging on performance can be offset by greater experience in these events.

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Michael L. Newell, Angus M. Hunter, Claire Lawrence, Kevin D. Tipton and Stuart D. R. Galloway

In an investigator-blind, randomized cross-over design, male cyclists (mean± SD) age 34.0 (± 10.2) years, body mass 74.6 (±7.9) kg, stature 178.3 (±8.0) cm, peak power output (PPO) 393 (±36) W, and VO2max 62 (±9) ml·kg−1min−1 training for more than 6 hr/wk for more than 3y (n = 20) completed four experimental trials. Each trial consisted of a 2-hr constant load ride at 95% of lactate threshold (185 ± 25W) then a work-matched time trial task (~30min at 70% of PPO). Three commercially available carbohydrate (CHO) beverages, plus a control (water), were administered during the 2-hr ride providing 0, 20, 39, or 64g·hr−1 of CHO at a fluid intake rate of 1L·hr−1. Performance was assessed by time to complete the time trial task, mean power output sustained, and pacing strategy used. Mean task completion time (min:sec ± SD) for 39g·hr−1 (34:19.5 ± 03:07.1, p = .006) and 64g·hr−1 (34:11.3 ± 03:08.5 p = .004) of CHO were significantly faster than control (37:01.9 ± 05:35.0). The mean percentage improvement from control was −6.1% (95% CI: −11.3 to −1.0) and −6.5% (95% CI: −11.7 to −1.4) in the 39 and 64g·hr−1 trials respectively. The 20g·hr−1 (35:17.6 ± 04:16.3) treatment did not reach statistical significance compared with control (p = .126) despite a mean improvement of −3.7% (95% CI −8.8−1.5%). No further differences between CHO trials were reported. No interaction between CHO dose and pacing strategy occurred. 39 and 64g·hr−1 of CHO were similarly effective at improving endurance cycling performance compared with a 0g·hr−1 control in our trained cyclists.

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Gianluca Vernillo, Alfredo Brighenti, Eloisa Limonta, Pietro Trabucchi, Davide Malatesta, Grégoire P. Millet and Federico Schena

Purpose:

To quantify changes in skeletal-muscle oxygenation and pulmonary O2 uptake (V̇O2) after an extreme ultratrail running bout.

Methods:

Before (PRE) and after (POST) the race (330-km, 24000 D±), profiles of vastus lateralis muscle oxygenation (ie, oxyhemoglobin [O2Hb], deoxyhemoglobin [HHb], and tissue oxygenation index [TOI]) and V̇O2 were determined in 14 athletes (EXP) and 12 control adults (CON) during two 4-min constant-load cycling bouts at power outputs of 1 (p1) and 1.5 (p1.5) W/kg performed in randomized order.

Results:

At POST, normalized [HHb] values increased (p1, +38.0%; p1.5, +27.9%; P < .05), while normalized [O2Hb] (p1, –20.4%; p1.5, –14.4%; P < .05) and TOI (p1, –17.0%; p1.5, –17.7%; P < .05) decreased in EXP. V̇O2 values were similar (P > 0.05). An “overshoot“ in normalized [HHb]:V̇O2 was observed, although the increase was significant only during p1.5 (+58.7%, P = .003). No difference in the aforementioned variables was noted in CON (P > .05).

Conclusions:

The concentric and, particularly, the eccentric loads characterizing this extreme ultratrail-running bout may have led to variations in muscle structure and function, increasing the local muscle deoxygenation profile and the imbalance between O2 delivery to working muscles and muscle O2 consumption. This highlights the importance of incorporating graded training, particularly downhill bouts, to reduce the negative influence of concentric and severe eccentric loads to the microcirculatory function and to enhance the ability of runners to sustain such loading.

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Jonathan Esteve-Lanao, Eneko Larumbe-Zabala, Anouar Dabab, Alberto Alcocer-Gamboa and Facundo Ahumada

The aim of this study was to describe the pacing distribution during 6 editions of the world cross-country championships.

Methods:

Data from the 768 male runners participating from 2007 to 2013 were considered for this study. Blocks of 10 participants according to final position (eg, 1st to 10th, 11 to 20th, etc) were considered.

Results:

Taking data from all editions together, the effect of years was found to be significant (F 5,266 = 3078.69, P < .001, ω2 = 0.31), as well as the effect of blocks of runners by final position (F 4,266 = 957.62, P < .001, ω2 = 0.08). A significant general decrease in speed by lap was also found (F 5,1330 = 2344.02, P < .001, ω2 = 0.29). Post hoc analyses were conducted for every edition where several pacing patterns were found. All correlations between the lap times and the total time were significant. However, each lap might show different predicting capacity over the individual outcome.

Discussion:

Top athletes seem to display different strategies, which allow them to sustain an optimal speed and/or kick as needed during the critical moments and succeed. After the first group (block) of runners, subsequent blocks always displayed a positive pacing pattern (fast to slow speed). Consequently, a much more stable pacing pattern should be considered to maximize final position.

Conclusions:

Top-10 finishers in the world cross-country championships tend to display a more even pace than the rest of the finishers, whose general behavior shows a positive (fast-to-slow) pattern.