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Sports, Volume 12, Issue 6 (June 2024) – 25 articles

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22 pages, 2316 KiB  
Review
The Characteristics of Endurance Events with a Variable Pacing Profile—Time to Embrace the Concept of “Intermittent Endurance Events”?
by Joao Henrique Falk Neto, Martin Faulhaber and Michael D. Kennedy
Sports 2024, 12(6), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060164 - 13 Jun 2024
Viewed by 116
Abstract
A variable pacing profile is common in different endurance events. In these races, several factors, such as changes in elevation or race dynamics, lead participants to perform numerous surges in intensity. These surges are so frequent that certain events, such as cross-country (XC) [...] Read more.
A variable pacing profile is common in different endurance events. In these races, several factors, such as changes in elevation or race dynamics, lead participants to perform numerous surges in intensity. These surges are so frequent that certain events, such as cross-country (XC) skiing, mountain biking (MTB), triathlon, and road cycling, have been termed “intermittent endurance events”. The characteristics of these surges vary depending on the sport: MTB and triathlon require athletes to perform numerous short (<10 s) bouts; XC skiing require periods of short- and moderate-(30 s to 2 min) duration efforts, while road cycling is comprised of a mix of short-, moderate-, and long-duration (>2 min) bouts. These bouts occur at intensities above the maximal metabolic steady state (MMSS), with many efforts performed at intensities above the athletes’ maximal aerobic power or speed (MAP/MAS) (i.e., supramaximal intensities). Given the factors that influence the requirement to perform surges in these events, athletes must be prepared to always engage in a race with a highly stochastic pace. The aim of this review is to characterize the variable pacing profile seen in endurance events and to discuss how the performance of multiple maximal and supramaximal surges in intensity can affect how athletes fatigue during a race and influence training strategies that can lead to success in these races. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maximising Triathlon Health and Performance: the State of the Art)
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11 pages, 918 KiB  
Article
Aspects of Elite Female Football Players’ Training Loads and Sleep Variations
by Kine Gjertsås, Frode Moen and Svein Arne Pettersen
Sports 2024, 12(6), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060163 - 13 Jun 2024
Viewed by 112
Abstract
The current study investigated the associations between female football players’ training loads and their sleep variations. The sample included 21 female elite football players from a Norwegian top-league club with a mean age of 24 years (±2.8). Sleep duration, sleep quality, and training [...] Read more.
The current study investigated the associations between female football players’ training loads and their sleep variations. The sample included 21 female elite football players from a Norwegian top-league club with a mean age of 24 years (±2.8). Sleep duration, sleep quality, and training load were monitored every day over 273 consecutive days with a Somnofy sleep monitor based on ultra-wideband (IR-UWB) pulse radar and Doppler technology, and a FIFA-approved STATSports APEX 10 Hz GPS tracking system monitoring players’ training loads. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to investigate the relationships between the players’ training loads and sleep. It was revealed that very high training loads were associated with reduced time in bed (p = 0.005), total sleep time (p = 0.044)), and rapid eye movement (p < 0.001). The present findings show that the female football players’ sleep was disrupted when the training load, based on total distance (TDI), was very high. It appears to be a point where their sleep is somewhat consistent through low, medium, and high training loads, but with disrupted sleep when the training load reaches a very high level. Considering the reduced TIB after a very high training load, there should be suggested strategies to improve their sleep, such as extended TIB, to aid in longer TST and improved recovery. Full article
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15 pages, 2603 KiB  
Article
Physical and Physiological Characteristics of Elite CrossFit Athletes
by Bram Sauvé, Magnus Haugan and Gøran Paulsen
Sports 2024, 12(6), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060162 - 12 Jun 2024
Viewed by 217
Abstract
Due to little available research on elite CrossFit athletes, the present investigation was undertaken to provide knowledge about their physical and physiological characteristics. Nineteen international level CrossFit athletes (8 men; 11 women) were tested for maximum oxygen consumption (V˙O2 [...] Read more.
Due to little available research on elite CrossFit athletes, the present investigation was undertaken to provide knowledge about their physical and physiological characteristics. Nineteen international level CrossFit athletes (8 men; 11 women) were tested for maximum oxygen consumption (V˙O2max), Wingate, squat 1 repetition maximum (1RM), countermovement jump (CMJ), lower body force–velocity, and body composition (DXA). To provide perspective, the results were compared to sixteen elite-level Alpinists (8 men; 8 women). There was no significant difference in absolute nor relative V˙O2max between the CrossFit and Alpinist men (p = 0.335 and p = 0.279, respectively). The CrossFit women showed similar absolute but higher relative V˙O2max than the Alpinist women (p = 0.055 and p = 0.005, respectively). Mean anaerobic power was higher in both CrossFit men and women (p = 0.021 and p = 0.008, respectively). There were no significant differences in squat 1RM and CMJ for both men and women (p > 0.05). Both CrossFit men and women showed lesser lower body force production (p = 0.043 and p = 0.034, respectively) but higher power (p = 0.009 and p = 0.003, respectively). The CrossFit men and women had a lower fat mass (p = 0.018 and p = 0.002, respectively) and fat percentage (p = 0.027 and p < 0.001, respectively). These observations show that elite CrossFit athletes possess physical and physiological characteristics comparable to world-class Alpinists. Full article
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13 pages, 776 KiB  
Article
Characteristics and Clinical Assessment of Elbow Pain in Youth Baseball Players
by Hironobu Koseki, Shiro Kajiyama, Takayuki Shida, Iku Tomonaga, Yuta Nishiyama, Daisuke Yoshida, Satoshi Mizukami, Kazuhiro Yamaguchi and Chieko Imai
Sports 2024, 12(6), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060161 - 11 Jun 2024
Viewed by 252
Abstract
Elbow injuries related to the throwing motion in baseball during the growth period present difficulties for early detection and may cause serious future disabilities. This study aimed to comprehensively determine the characteristics and clinical assessment of elbow pain in youth baseball players. Two [...] Read more.
Elbow injuries related to the throwing motion in baseball during the growth period present difficulties for early detection and may cause serious future disabilities. This study aimed to comprehensively determine the characteristics and clinical assessment of elbow pain in youth baseball players. Two hundred and sixteen young baseball players underwent elbow medical examination. Basic information and physical examination, clinical assessment, and ultrasonography results were examined. Univariate analyses were statistically performed between the pain-free (98 participants) and elbow pain (118 participants) groups. The mean age was 11.6 years, and ultrasonographic abnormalities were found on the medial side of the elbow in 37.5%. In total, 118 (54.6%) participants experienced elbow pain, with 64.4% of them complaining of elbow pain on the medial side. Players with multiple positions (≥2 positions) had a significantly higher prevalence of elbow pain. Height, weight, length of baseball experience, and positive rates of horizontal flexion and moving valgus stress tests were higher in the elbow pain group than in the pain-free group. The risk factors and clinical assessment for elbow pain are useful for the prevention and early detection of throwing elbow injuries in youth baseball players. Full article
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15 pages, 1626 KiB  
Article
Flow Training Program: Mindfulness, Decision Making, and Mental Well-Being of Young and Adult Elite Handball Athletes
by Luis Martiny, Gonçalo Dias, José Pedro Ferreira, Rodrigo Mendes and Rui Mendes
Sports 2024, 12(6), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060160 - 7 Jun 2024
Viewed by 246
Abstract
This study aimed to analyze the effect of a flow training program based on mindfulness applied to young and adult elite handball athletes. A quantitative, quasi-experimental, descriptive data analysis approach was carried out. The sample included 105 athletes (51 female and 54 male). [...] Read more.
This study aimed to analyze the effect of a flow training program based on mindfulness applied to young and adult elite handball athletes. A quantitative, quasi-experimental, descriptive data analysis approach was carried out. The sample included 105 athletes (51 female and 54 male). The athletes were divided into two groups: (i) experimental (n = 53) and (ii) control (n = 52). The results of the repeated ANOVA indicated that the experimental group achieved significant improvements compared to the control group in decision making (n2p = 0.086), mental well-being (n2p = 0.045), dispositional flow state (n2p = 0.103), non-judgment (n2p = 0.040), refocusing (n2p = 0.052), and mindful traits in daily life (n2p = 0.058). A Pearson analysis demonstrated a positive correlation between dispositional flow state and mindfulness in sport and mental well-being. The correlation analysis also showed an inverse correlation between decision making and sense of control and mindful traits in daily life. The findings revealed that the program can be effective in decision making, mental well-being, dispositional flow state, mindfulness in sport, and mindful traits in daily lives of athletes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Sport Psychology)
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10 pages, 614 KiB  
Article
Changes in Lower-Extremity Gait Biomechanics Following High-Cadence Cycling
by Tanner A. Thorsen, Rials J. Hester and Christopher J. Keating
Sports 2024, 12(6), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060159 - 7 Jun 2024
Viewed by 155
Abstract
We sought to investigate the lower-extremity biomechanics underlying increased gait velocity following high-cadence cycling. Ground reaction forces (GRF) and lower-extremity kinematics and kinetics were recorded as 15 healthy adults walked at a self-selected pace prior to and immediately following a 15 min bout [...] Read more.
We sought to investigate the lower-extremity biomechanics underlying increased gait velocity following high-cadence cycling. Ground reaction forces (GRF) and lower-extremity kinematics and kinetics were recorded as 15 healthy adults walked at a self-selected pace prior to and immediately following a 15 min bout of cycling at a cadence of 75 rotations per minute. Propulsive GRF and stance-phase peak dorsiflexion and knee extension angles increased, while peak plantarflexion and hip extension angles decreased. Swing-phase peak dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, knee flexion, and hip flexion angles increased, while peak knee extension angle decreased. Peak dorsiflexion, knee extension, and hip extension angular velocity also increased during swing. No changes in peak joint moments were observed; however, peak positive ankle, knee, and hip joint power generation increased following cycling. Completing high-cadence cycling improves gait velocity by increasing propulsive GRF; increasing joint angular velocity during the swing phase of gait for the ankle, knee, and hip; and increasing positive power production by the ankle, knee, and hip during the stance phase. Increased gait velocity post cycling exercise did not increase lower-extremity joint moments. Cycling may be a viable exercise-based modality for increasing gait velocity, especially in populations where gait ability or joint loading is of particular concern. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics and Sports Performances)
13 pages, 885 KiB  
Article
Effects of Kin Ball Initiation: Pre- and Post-Pandemic Impact on Palmar Muscle Strength, Endurance, and Coordination in Non-Athlete Participants
by Daniel Rosu, Ion-Sebastian Enache, Raul-Ioan Muntean and Valentina Stefanica
Sports 2024, 12(6), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060158 - 6 Jun 2024
Viewed by 261
Abstract
The aim of our research is to introduce Kin Ball for the first time in Romania and assess its impact on the motor capacities of practitioners, particularly focusing on its potential contribution to developing motor skills in young students within the academic sphere, [...] Read more.
The aim of our research is to introduce Kin Ball for the first time in Romania and assess its impact on the motor capacities of practitioners, particularly focusing on its potential contribution to developing motor skills in young students within the academic sphere, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Design: A retrospective, case–control study with a focus on four distinct research groups. Setting: The research was conducted in a camp setting, situated in the mountainous region of Bughea de Sus, Romania. Participants: The study included 94 students, comprising 54 boys and 40 girls, with an overall average age of 20.85 ± 2 years. All participants were classified as non-athletes based on their level of sports practice. Interventions: The Kin Ball initiation program, a key component of the study, comprised 20 training sessions conducted in 10-day stages, systematically evaluating participants’ motor skills. Main outcome measures: The study assessed palmar muscle strength, endurance, and co-ordination function. Results: Statistical analyses, including the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test, revealed notable differences in the initiation process and significant variations (p < 0.05) in all measurements performed in 2022. In 2019, the tests recorded both significant and statistically insignificant differences, as indicated by the calculation of Cohen’s d indicator. Conclusions: The study underscored the influence of reduced movement during the pandemic on motor skills and highlighted Kin Ball’s potential as an alternative sport within physical education curricula. Despite lower baseline motor capacities observed in 2022, participants exhibited significant progress, emphasizing Kin Ball’s capacity to improve physical skills. These findings underscore the importance of alternative sports such as Kin Ball in fostering holistic personal development and mitigating the impact of pandemic-induced disruptions on motor skills. Full article
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13 pages, 1748 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Different Velocity Losses on Post-Activation Performance Enhancement (PAPE) Effects in Sprint Athletes: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Study
by Liang Li, Ling Mo, Yanxu Liu and Tao Mei
Sports 2024, 12(6), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060157 - 6 Jun 2024
Viewed by 226
Abstract
Post-activation performance enhancement (PAPE) can significantly improve athletic performance. This study investigated the effects of two different velocity loss (10% VL and 20% VL) protocols on PAPE in 20 m sprint performance among sprint athletes. Twenty-four male sprint athletes (100 m sprint time: [...] Read more.
Post-activation performance enhancement (PAPE) can significantly improve athletic performance. This study investigated the effects of two different velocity loss (10% VL and 20% VL) protocols on PAPE in 20 m sprint performance among sprint athletes. Twenty-four male sprint athletes (100 m sprint time: 10.96 ± 0.15 s) participated in the study. A randomized crossover experimental design was used to compare the traditional group (TG) and 10% VL and 20% VL interventions. Sprint tests were conducted at 4, 8, 12, and 16 min post-intervention. A two-way repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant interaction effect between group and time on 20 m sprint performance (F = 2.817, p = 0.037, partial η2 = 0.585). Simple main effects analysis revealed significant improvements at 4 min for the 20% VL group (p < 0.05). Cohen’s d values indicated improvements in 10 m sprint times at 8 min for all groups (TG: effect size (ES) = −0.270, 10% VL: ES = −0.038, 20% VL: ES = −0.279). Improvements in 20 m sprint times were observed at 4 min for the 20% VL group (ES = −0.296) and at 16 min for the 10% VL group (ES = −0.276). In conclusion, the velocity loss-based PAPE protocol (20% VL) demonstrated a superior induction of PAPE effects in sprint athletes at 4 min compared to traditional 1RM-based PAPE protocols. However, no significant differences were observed between the two protocols at 8, 12, and 16 min. Full article
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15 pages, 554 KiB  
Systematic Review
Dry Needling in Overhead Athletes with Myofascial Shoulder Pain: A Systematic Review
by Andrea Demeco, Alessandro de Sire, Antonello Salerno, Nicola Marotta, Stefano Palermi, Antonio Frizziero and Cosimo Costantino
Sports 2024, 12(6), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060156 - 5 Jun 2024
Viewed by 298
Abstract
The treatment of myofascial pain in athletes requires a set of rehabilitation techniques that aim to be effective quickly. In this context, dry needling (DNY) has shown interesting results due to its ability to reduce pain in the short term. Thus, the aim [...] Read more.
The treatment of myofascial pain in athletes requires a set of rehabilitation techniques that aim to be effective quickly. In this context, dry needling (DNY) has shown interesting results due to its ability to reduce pain in the short term. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the role of DNY in managing myofascial shoulder pain in overhead athletes. PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science were screened up to March 2024, to identify studies that met the following inclusion criteria: overhead athletes with shoulder pain with a DNY approach for myofascial trigger points (MTrPs), RCT, case–control study, feasibility study as the study design. Exclusion criteria were studies that did not include athletes, studies that did not focus on the treatment of MTrPs with DNY, other reviews, no full-text availability and papers written in a language other than English. Out of 399 articles, 165 were excluded as duplicates. Of the 234 articles screened, only 6 articles met the inclusion criteria. A total of 6 studies were included in the systematic review. Initial results showed that DNY improved pain rapidly and in the short term; however, there is still no consensus on the minimum number and the interval between treatments. Major findings reported a rapid potential decrease in perceived pain, shoulder disability and an increase in muscle strength; in this scenario, DNY might be a valid solution in a sports rehabilitation setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport Injuries, Rehabilitation and New Technologies)
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14 pages, 914 KiB  
Article
Direct and Indirect Effects of Youth Sports Participation on Emotional Intelligence, Self-Esteem, and Life Satisfaction
by Helder Miguel Fernandes, Henrique Costa, Pedro Esteves, Aristides M. Machado-Rodrigues and Teresa Fonseca
Sports 2024, 12(6), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060155 - 3 Jun 2024
Viewed by 130
Abstract
The present study investigated the mediating effects of emotional intelligence and self-esteem between youth sports participation and life satisfaction, as well as the comparative effects of different types of sports involvement (team, individual, and non-participation) on these selected variables. A sample of 1053 [...] Read more.
The present study investigated the mediating effects of emotional intelligence and self-esteem between youth sports participation and life satisfaction, as well as the comparative effects of different types of sports involvement (team, individual, and non-participation) on these selected variables. A sample of 1053 Portuguese adolescents (612 girls and 441 boys), aged between 12 and 18 years (M = 14.40; SD = 1.55), completed the following self-report measures: the Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the Satisfaction with Life Scale. The structural equation modeling results indicated a complete mediating role of two emotional intelligence dimensions (use of emotion and self-emotional appraisal) and self-esteem in the relationship between sports participation and adolescents’ life satisfaction. Team sport participants reported higher emotional intelligence and self-esteem scores than their non-sport participant counterparts who revealed lower levels of emotion use than their individual sport participant peers. These findings provide novel insights into the potential emotional and psychological mechanisms underlying the association between youth sports participation and life satisfaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Health of Young Athletes and Team Sports Performance)
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14 pages, 338 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Motivation on Physical Activity among Middle and High School Students
by Hélio Antunes, Ana Rodrigues, Bebiana Sabino, Ricardo Alves, Ana Luísa Correia and Helder Lopes
Sports 2024, 12(6), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060154 - 30 May 2024
Viewed by 207
Abstract
The study addressed two main objectives: (i) to investigate disparities in motivation dimensions regarding extracurricular physical activity and (ii) to identify the influence of motivation on time spent in formal and informal physical activity. A sample of 704 adolescents (56% girls) from middle [...] Read more.
The study addressed two main objectives: (i) to investigate disparities in motivation dimensions regarding extracurricular physical activity and (ii) to identify the influence of motivation on time spent in formal and informal physical activity. A sample of 704 adolescents (56% girls) from middle (46%) and high school (54%), with an average age of 14.88 ± 2.52, was assessed for different motivation dimensions using the Questionnaire of Motivation for Sports Activities (QMSA). Additionally, participants were categorized based on extracurricular physical activity practice. Multivariate analyses and multiple linear regressions were conducted to examine the effect of physical activity type on motivation dimensions and identify predictors of time spent in formal and informal physical activities, respectively. Results indicated that motivation varied significantly with extracurricular physical activity practice (p < 0.05), with students involved in extracurricular activities being more motivated. Sex and age differences were observed, with boys showing higher motivation in certain dimensions (achievement status (p < 0.001); group activity (p = 0.027); contextual (p = 0.004); technical improvement (p = 0.012) and older participants having lower scores in all dimensions. The influence of family and friends was a significant predictor only for boys in formal physical activity (p = 0.039). In terms of time spent in physical activity, group activity was a predictor for informal activities (p < 0.001), while technical improvement was a predictor for formal activities (p < 0.001), with notable sex differences. These findings underscore the importance of considering sex- and age-specific motivations when promoting physical activity among adolescents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Sport Psychology)
10 pages, 611 KiB  
Article
Vitamin D Deficiency in Professional Football Players during Competitive Season of Italian First Division (Serie A)
by Marco Alfonso Perrone, Massimo Pieri, Giuseppe Caminiti, Wahid Ali, Sergio Bernardini, Attilio Parisi, Ferdinando Iellamo, Rosario Barone and Pasquale Farsetti
Sports 2024, 12(6), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060153 - 29 May 2024
Viewed by 267
Abstract
Background: Data in the literature have demonstrated the crucial role that vitamin D plays in the human organism, and recent studies also emphasize this essential role of vitamin D in athletes. Indeed, vitamin D acts on the skeletal muscles and plays a fundamental [...] Read more.
Background: Data in the literature have demonstrated the crucial role that vitamin D plays in the human organism, and recent studies also emphasize this essential role of vitamin D in athletes. Indeed, vitamin D acts on the skeletal muscles and plays a fundamental role in numerous physiological processes involved in immune function. Many factors such as sun exposure, skin tone, body mass index and chronic illness affect vitamin D levels. The aim of the study is to evaluate vitamin D levels in professional football players in Italy and investigate the variations in vitamin D values in footballers who train at different latitudes. Methods: The study performed is a retrospective observational study analyzing 25-OH vitamin D values in professional football players of the Italian First Division (Serie A). Two teams during the competitive season were selected: team A (latitude of 41° N in southern Italy) and team B (latitude of 45° N in northern Italy). Three time periods were identified and were classified as follows: the first quarter (May, June, July, and August), the second quarter (September, October, November, and December) and the third quarter (January, February, March, and April). The purpose of this was to study the average values of vitamin D during the year corresponding to different levels of sunlight exposure. Each athlete was subjected to at least one sampling during the three quarters of the competitive season. Results: Both vitamin D insufficiency (10.1%) and overt deficiency (1.93%) were found in Italian Serie A players. Insufficient vitamin D values are between 20 ng/mL and 29 ng/mL and overt deficiency values <20 ng/mL. At the same time, the data demonstrated a significant variation in vitamin D values depending on the period of the competitive season and the latitude of the cities of the two teams. In detail, there was no significant difference in the first quarter, while there was a significant increase in vitamin D values in team B in the second and third quarter, at p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively. Conclusions: Latitude and seasons have a significant impact on vitamin D levels. Therefore, it is essential to measure vitamin D in professional football players, especially during the spring and winter months, so as to monitor changes in levels in relation to the season and latitude and evaluate any supplements. Further studies should be performed to evaluate the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and football players’ athletic performance. Full article
19 pages, 1195 KiB  
Systematic Review
Effects of Therapies Involving Plyometric-Jump Training on Physical Fitness of Youth with Cerebral Palsy: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis
by Exal Garcia-Carrillo, Rodrigo Ramirez-Campillo, Mikel Izquierdo, Ragab K. Elnaggar, José Afonso, Luis Peñailillo, Rodrigo Araneda, Daniela Ebner-Karestinos and Urs Granacher
Sports 2024, 12(6), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060152 - 29 May 2024
Viewed by 367
Abstract
The aim of this systematic review was to assess the effects of plyometric-jump training (PJT) on the physical fitness of youth with cerebral palsy (CP) compared with controls (i.e., standard therapy). The PRISMA 2020 guidelines were followed. Eligibility was assessed using the PICOS [...] Read more.
The aim of this systematic review was to assess the effects of plyometric-jump training (PJT) on the physical fitness of youth with cerebral palsy (CP) compared with controls (i.e., standard therapy). The PRISMA 2020 guidelines were followed. Eligibility was assessed using the PICOS approach. Literature searches were conducted using the PubMed, Web of Science, and SCOPUS databases. Methodological study quality was assessed using the PEDro scale. Data were meta-analyzed by applying a random-effects model to calculate Hedges’ g effect sizes (ES), along with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). The impact of heterogeneity was assessed (I2 statistic), and the certainty of evidence was determined using the GRADE approach. Eight randomized-controlled studies with low-to-moderate methodological quality were included, involving male (n = 225) and female (n = 138) youth aged 9.5 to 14.6 years. PJT interventions lasted between 8 and 12 weeks with 2–4 weekly sessions. Compared with controls, PJT improved the muscle strength (ES = 0.66 [moderate], 95% CI = 0.36–0.96, p < 0.001, I2 = 5.4%), static (ES = 0.69 [moderate], 95% CI= 0.33–1.04, p < 0.001, I2 = 0.0%) and dynamic balance (ES = 0.85 [moderate], 95% CI = 0.12–1.58, p = 0.023, I2 = 81.6%) of youth with CP. Therefore, PJT improves muscle strength and static and dynamic balance in youth with CP compared with controls. However, more high-quality randomized-controlled trials with larger sample sizes are needed to provide a more definitive recommendation regarding the use and safety of PJT to improve measures of physical fitness. Full article
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16 pages, 19215 KiB  
Article
Decision-Making Time Analysis for Assessing Processing Speed in Athletes during Motor Reaction Tasks
by Leonardo Ariel Cano, Gonzalo Daniel Gerez, María Soledad García, Ana Lía Albarracín, Fernando Daniel Farfán and Eduardo Fernández-Jover
Sports 2024, 12(6), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060151 - 29 May 2024
Viewed by 394
Abstract
Reaction time (RT) is a widely used measure for testing physical performance in motor tasks. This study focused on assessing the processing speed in athletes. Twenty-five healthy volunteers were assigned to the control (n = 16) or athletes groups (n = 9). They [...] Read more.
Reaction time (RT) is a widely used measure for testing physical performance in motor tasks. This study focused on assessing the processing speed in athletes. Twenty-five healthy volunteers were assigned to the control (n = 16) or athletes groups (n = 9). They were evaluated during motor reaction tasks based on visual stimuli and three difficulty conditions. Physiological measures were obtained from motion capture and electromyography recordings of several muscles. Two RT phases, decision-making (DMK) and electromechanical delay (EMD), were used to analyze the processing speed. The results show significant RT differences between groups. The athletes were ~30% faster compared to the control group. Despite the fact that all participants were right-handed, RT did not show any differences between hands performances in any group. However, DMK time revealed significant differences between the hands. Controls showed a longer DMK time for the right-hand election, ~20% more than the left, while athletes showed no such disparity. These findings reveal that quantifying the decision-making component of reaction time is crucial to assessing processing speed in sport. This approach could facilitate the monitoring of adaptations in both motor–cognitive and neuromuscular processes. The theoretical implications presented in this study offer perspectives on handedness research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport Physiology and Physical Performance)
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11 pages, 2005 KiB  
Article
Effect of 6-Week Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization on Joint Flexibility and Musculotendinous Properties
by Naoki Ikeda, Kazuya Hiratsuka and Tadao Isaka
Sports 2024, 12(6), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060150 - 28 May 2024
Viewed by 297
Abstract
Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) stimulates soft subcutaneous tissues by applying pressure to the skin with a specialized bar or spurtle-like instrument. No studies have verified whether several weeks of continuous IASTM alone can alter joint flexibility and musculotendinous properties in healthy participants. [...] Read more.
Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) stimulates soft subcutaneous tissues by applying pressure to the skin with a specialized bar or spurtle-like instrument. No studies have verified whether several weeks of continuous IASTM alone can alter joint flexibility and musculotendinous properties in healthy participants. We examined the effect of a 6-week IASTM program on joint flexibility and the musculotendinous properties of the lower limbs. Fourteen healthy men (aged 19–35 years) who participated in a 6-week IASTM program (3 days weekly) for the soft tissue of the posterior aspect of one lower leg were included. The other leg served as the control. Before and after the intervention, we measured the maximal ankle joint dorsiflexion angle (dorsiflexion range of motion: DFROM) and maximal passive torque (MPT), a measure of stretch tolerance. We measured muscle and tendon stiffness using shear wave elastography on the gastrocnemius and Achilles tendon. IASTM significantly increased the DFROM and MPT (p < 0.05 for both). However, no significant changes were observed in muscle and tendon stiffness. None of the parameters changed significantly in the control group. The 6-week IASTM program increased stretch tolerance and joint flexibility but did not change muscle and tendon stiffness. Full article
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15 pages, 965 KiB  
Article
Does Ultra-Endurance Passion Make Athletes Happy?
by Tatjana Bill, Grégory Dessart and Roberta Antonini Philippe
Sports 2024, 12(6), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060149 - 28 May 2024
Viewed by 334
Abstract
Sport psychology research of ultra-endurance (UE) athletes focused predominantly on their psychological characteristics, traits, and behaviors. However, their happiness and passion, as well as a unified framework for UE hobby phenomenon, were not sufficiently investigated. This study aims to: (1) identify the main [...] Read more.
Sport psychology research of ultra-endurance (UE) athletes focused predominantly on their psychological characteristics, traits, and behaviors. However, their happiness and passion, as well as a unified framework for UE hobby phenomenon, were not sufficiently investigated. This study aims to: (1) identify the main contributors to happiness and passion of non-professional UE athletes; and (2) explore the possible relationships between types of sport passion, motivation, and athletic identity. During data collection, 116 non-professional UE athletes (mean age 43.66 years, SD = 8.97, 16.4% female) responded to an online questionnaire. Statistical analyses revealed that obsessive UE passion (p < 0.05) and amotivation (p < 0.05) predicted lower levels of happiness. A higher level of obsessive passion was predicted by extrinsic motivation (p < 0.005), amotivation (p < 0.05), and exclusivity identity (p < 0.001); a lower level was predicted by social identity (p < 0.05) and years in sports (p < 0.05). Weekly training hours and age correlated positively with passion strength, while amotivation was strongly negatively related to training volume. These results indicate that happiness of UE athletes depends on the type of sport passion formed and the quality of the underlying motivation: obsessive passion and amotivation seem to be the main enemies of happiness for UE athletes. This novel finding connecting passion, happiness, and motivation contributes to both a better understanding of the psychology of UE athletes and has practical implications for UE athletes, coaches, athletes’ social circles, and sport psychologists. Due to known maladaptive outcomes of obsessive passion, including its negative impact on overall well-being, health, and now also on happiness, its formation in UE athletes needs to be observed and prevented. While the study shows predictors of obsessive passion and high vs. low obsessive passion, future research should investigate how harmonious passion impacts athletes’ happiness, motivation, and identity. Likewise, research among the UE entourage would help to better understand the social impact of UE as a serious hobby and the formation of UE lifestyles. We also suggest our Temporal Framework for Progressive UE Engagement and Passion, which was further developed based on the results of this study, to be used and validated by sport psychologists. Full article
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17 pages, 1960 KiB  
Article
Loading or Unloading? This Is the Question! A Multi-Season Study in Professional Football Players
by Mauro Mandorino, Antonio Tessitore and Mathieu Lacome
Sports 2024, 12(6), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060148 - 28 May 2024
Viewed by 1358
Abstract
This study examined the impact of training load periodization on neuromuscular readiness in elite football players using the Locomotor Efficiency Index (LEI) as a measure of performance optimization. Throughout the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons, 106 elite male players (age: 19.5 ± 3.9 years) [...] Read more.
This study examined the impact of training load periodization on neuromuscular readiness in elite football players using the Locomotor Efficiency Index (LEI) as a measure of performance optimization. Throughout the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons, 106 elite male players (age: 19.5 ± 3.9 years) from an Italian professional football club were monitored using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) external load data. The LEI was derived from a machine learning model, specifically random forest regression, which compared predicted and actual PlayerLoad™ values to evaluate neuromuscular efficiency. Players were categorized by weekly LEI into three readiness states: bad, normal, and good. Analysis focused on the variation in weekly LEI relative to weekly load percentage variation (large decrease, moderate decrease, no variation, moderate increase, large increase), which included total distance, high-speed distance (above 25.2 km/h), and mechanical load, defined as the sum of accelerations and decelerations. Statistical analysis showed significant differences only with variations in total distance and mechanical load. Specifically, reducing weekly loads improved LEI in players in lower readiness states, while maintaining or slightly increasing loads promoted optimal readiness. This approach enables coaches to tailor training prescriptions more effectively, optimizing workload and recovery to sustain player performance throughout a demanding season. Full article
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15 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Listening to Stakeholders’ Voices on Funding Social Inclusion in Sport for People with Disabilities—Proposal for Criteria
by Maria João Campos, Viktorija Pečnikar Oblak, Alain Massart, Predrag Ljubotina, Szilvia Perényi, Judit Farkas, Hugo Sarmento and Mojca Doupona
Sports 2024, 12(6), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060147 - 27 May 2024
Viewed by 444
Abstract
The value of sport is extensively documented; however, there are still groups who do not have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sport due to lack of investment, particularly important for people with disabilities. A gap persists in understanding the effectiveness of [...] Read more.
The value of sport is extensively documented; however, there are still groups who do not have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sport due to lack of investment, particularly important for people with disabilities. A gap persists in understanding the effectiveness of inclusive sport programs in addressing equity-related targets, particularly on the effective methods of financing inclusion in sport for individuals with disabilities. Therefore, providing a platform for stakeholders to express their perspectives becomes crucial. Through focus groups and the World Café approach, the aim of this study was to gather insights from athletes, parents, professionals, and sport club managers regarding the funding of inclusive sport for people with disabilities. A total of 72 participants took part in nine focus groups in Portugal, Slovenia, and Hungary: 27 athletes with disabilities, 22 coaches, other technicians and parents, and 23 club managers/directors. Findings were divided into five topics: (1) perspectives on current funding satisfaction; (2) perspectives on sources and criteria for funding; (3) perspectives on ideal funding; (4) perspectives on ideas to reach decision-makers; and (5) proposals on ideal criteria for funding. Based on these findings, six measurable criteria for fair funding allocation were suggested that could develop a properly weighted system of criteria for decision-makers to assess the allocation of funding among inclusive sport organizations with the potential to catalyze broader policy and societal changes. Additionally, there is a pressing need to develop a funding model for inclusive sport for individuals with disabilities. Full article
10 pages, 394 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Physical Activity Levels on Cognitive Performance: Research in Portuguese Adolescents
by Ana Rodrigues, Hélio Antunes, Bebiana Sabino, Duarte Sousa, Ana Luísa Correia, Ricardo Alves and Hélder Lopes
Sports 2024, 12(6), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060146 - 27 May 2024
Viewed by 227
Abstract
The literature unequivocally acknowledges the numerous health benefits that physical activity (PA) provides. However, in other variables, such as cognitive performance (CP), the PA characteristics required to elicit favorable benefits remain controversial, particularly among adolescents. The aim was to investigate the evolution of [...] Read more.
The literature unequivocally acknowledges the numerous health benefits that physical activity (PA) provides. However, in other variables, such as cognitive performance (CP), the PA characteristics required to elicit favorable benefits remain controversial, particularly among adolescents. The aim was to investigate the evolution of CP in adolescents over the school year, as well as the role of regular PA levels. The study included 366 adolescents (boys n = 154), between 12 and 20 years old (15.46 ± 1.63), from middle school (n = 123) and high school (n = 243). CP was assessed through a face-to-face interview employing the Cognitive Telephone Screening Instrument. The variation in CP (∆CP) was determined by the difference between the value of the final assessment (end of the school year) and the initial assessment (start of the school year). PA was assessed using accelerometry (ActiGraph GT3X+). The CP score improved from the initial to the final assessment (37.80 ± 9.26 vs. 40.45 ± 10.05) (t = −6.135; p < 0.001; Glass’s Delta = 0.37. Multiple linear regression revealed that age (ß = −0.332; t = −4.255; p < 0.001) and high-intensity PA (ß = 0.283; t = 3.627; p < 0.001) accounted for 17.2% of the variation in ∆CP. CP improved significantly over the school year, emphasizing the significance of age and vigorous PA in ∆CP in adolescents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Sport Psychology)
12 pages, 2453 KiB  
Article
Resistance Training Causes the Stretch-Induced Force Deficit—A Randomized Cross-Over Study
by Konstantin Warneke, Katharina Turau, Lars Hubertus Lohmann, Martin Hillebrecht, David G. Behm, Andreas Konrad and Tobias Schmidt
Sports 2024, 12(6), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060145 - 27 May 2024
Viewed by 337
Abstract
Purpose: Stretch-induced force deficit suggests an acute stretch-specific strength capacity loss, which is commonly attributed to EMG reductions. Since those deficits could also be attributed to general fatigue induced by overloading the muscle, this study aimed to compare stretching with an exhausting calf [...] Read more.
Purpose: Stretch-induced force deficit suggests an acute stretch-specific strength capacity loss, which is commonly attributed to EMG reductions. Since those deficits could also be attributed to general fatigue induced by overloading the muscle, this study aimed to compare stretching with an exhausting calf raise programme to compare strength and stretching responses. Method: This study included 16 participants with different, high-duration calf muscle stretching effects (10, 20, 30 min of stretching) with resistance training (RT) (3 × 12 repetitions) performed until muscle failure, by using a cross-over study design with pre-post comparisons. Strength was tested via isometric plantar flexor diagnostics, while flexibility was assessed using the knee-to-wall test (KtW) and an isolated goniometer test. Results: Using a three-way ANOVA, RT strength decreases were greater compared to 10 and 20 min of stretching (p = 0.01–0.02), but similar to those of 30 min of stretching. ROM in the KtW showed no specific stretch-induced increases, while only the stretching conditions enhanced isolated tested ROM (p < 0.001–0.008). No RT-related isolated ROM increases were observed. Conclusions: The results showed both interventions had similar effects on strength and ROM in the calf muscles. More holistic explanatory approaches such as fatigue and warm-up are discussed in the manuscript and call for further research. Full article
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19 pages, 1691 KiB  
Review
Artificial Intelligence in Sports Medicine: Reshaping Electrocardiogram Analysis for Athlete Safety—A Narrative Review
by Alina Maria Smaranda, Teodora Simina Drăgoiu, Adela Caramoci, Adelina Ana Afetelor, Anca Mirela Ionescu and Ioana Anca Bădărău
Sports 2024, 12(6), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060144 - 26 May 2024
Viewed by 512
Abstract
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is redefining electrocardiogram (ECG) analysis in pre-participation examination (PPE) of athletes, enhancing the detection and monitoring of cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular concerns, including sudden cardiac death, pose significant risks during sports activities. Traditional ECG, essential yet limited, often fails to distinguish [...] Read more.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is redefining electrocardiogram (ECG) analysis in pre-participation examination (PPE) of athletes, enhancing the detection and monitoring of cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular concerns, including sudden cardiac death, pose significant risks during sports activities. Traditional ECG, essential yet limited, often fails to distinguish between benign cardiac adaptations and serious conditions. This narrative review investigates the application of machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) in ECG interpretation, aiming to improve the detection of arrhythmias, channelopathies, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathies. A literature review over the past decade, sourcing from PubMed and Google Scholar, highlights the growing adoption of AI in sports medicine for its precision and predictive capabilities. AI algorithms excel at identifying complex cardiac patterns, potentially overlooked by traditional methods, and are increasingly integrated into wearable technologies for continuous monitoring. Overall, by offering a comprehensive overview of current innovations and outlining future advancements, this review supports sports medicine professionals in merging traditional screening methods with state-of-the-art AI technologies. This approach aims to enhance diagnostic accuracy and efficiency in athlete care, promoting early detection and more effective monitoring through AI-enhanced ECG analysis within athlete PPEs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Potential Role of Artificial Intelligence in Sports Cardiology)
10 pages, 1662 KiB  
Article
Autonomic Rebound Following Maximal Exercise in Bodybuilders and Recreationally Active Participants
by Brian Kliszczewicz, Gabe Wilner, Andre Canino, Pedro Chung, Abigail Nickel, Keilah Vaughan, Cherilyn McLester and Robert Buresh
Sports 2024, 12(6), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060143 - 25 May 2024
Viewed by 346
Abstract
The off-season for natural bodybuilders (BB) is characterized by increased training loads and fluctuations in caloric intake, which may lead to insufficient recovery. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a pivotal role in recovery. The purpose of this study was to evaluate resting [...] Read more.
The off-season for natural bodybuilders (BB) is characterized by increased training loads and fluctuations in caloric intake, which may lead to insufficient recovery. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a pivotal role in recovery. The purpose of this study was to evaluate resting ANS activity and recovery following a maximal exercise bout in off-season BB and compare them to those of recreationally active individuals. Fifteen males participated; 7 recreationally active (RA) (24.6 ± 2.1 years, 81.1 ± 10.8 kg) and 8 BB (21.8 ± 2.9 years, 89.3 ± 13.0 kg). Each performed a graded exercise test. Heart rate variability (HRV) was measured at rest and during a 45 min recovery period. HRV was analyzed as: root mean square of successive differences (lnRMSSD), standard deviation of normal-to-normal sinus beats (lnSDNN), high frequency (lnHF), low frequency (lnLF), and the ratio of low frequency to high frequency (lnLF/lnHF). A one-way ANOVA showed no differences for any resting marker of HRV, HR, and HR recovery. A significant depression in all markers of HRV was observed in the BB group at the 15 min point, and no recovery was observed before 45 min when compared to RA. The results of this study demonstrated depressed HRV recovery following the graded exercise test in BB when compared to the RA group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competition and Sports Training: A Challenge for Public Health)
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13 pages, 269 KiB  
Article
Differences and Relationship between Body Composition and Motor Coordination in Children Aged 6–7 Years
by Vladan Pelemiš, Slobodan Pavlović, Danimir Mandić, Milan Radaković, Dragan Branković, Vladimir Živanović, Zoran Milić and Senad Bajrić
Sports 2024, 12(6), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060142 - 23 May 2024
Viewed by 436
Abstract
Background: The primary goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between body composition and motor coordination performance, and the secondary goal was to determine sex differences in body composition and motor coordination of preschool children. Methods: Forty-eight children (23 boys and [...] Read more.
Background: The primary goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between body composition and motor coordination performance, and the secondary goal was to determine sex differences in body composition and motor coordination of preschool children. Methods: Forty-eight children (23 boys and 25 girls) underwent assessments for body composition and motor coordination using the Köperkoordinationstest für Kinder (KTK). Results: Linear regression analysis revealed significant associations between body composition and motor coordination in boys (p < 0.05) but not in girls. In boys, Body height (p = 0.01), Total muscle mass (p = 0.03), Total fat (p = 0.03), and Total water (p = 0.02) show statistically significant influence on single-leg jumps. Similar results were obtained for lateral jumps where there was a statistically significant influence of Body height (p = 0.01), Total muscle mass (p = 0.03), and Total water (p = 0.02). Interestingly, predictive variables showed no statistically significant influence on KTK overall score in boys (p = 0.42) nor in girls (p = 0.90). Conclusions: The predictive system of morphological variables demonstrated significance only among boys in this age group and sample. Girls outperformed boys due to early maturation, resulting in better average KTK scores. Full article
12 pages, 439 KiB  
Article
Sex Differences in Athletic Performance Response to the Imagery and Mental Toughness of Elite Middle- and Long-Distance Runners
by Yunus Emre Yarayan, Serdar Solmaz, Mehdi Aslan, Alexios Batrakoulis, Sameer Badri Al-Mhanna and Kadir Keskin
Sports 2024, 12(6), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060141 - 23 May 2024
Viewed by 554
Abstract
This study aimed to determine whether there is a difference between the levels of imagery and mental toughness in the context of sports performance in male and female athletes. A total of 344 track and field athletes, 205 male (59.6%, 23.3 ± 4.0 [...] Read more.
This study aimed to determine whether there is a difference between the levels of imagery and mental toughness in the context of sports performance in male and female athletes. A total of 344 track and field athletes, 205 male (59.6%, 23.3 ± 4.0 years) and 139 female (40.4%, 22.9 ± 4.0 years), voluntarily participated in the study. Imagery Inventory and Mental Toughness Inventory in Sport were used as data collection tools in the study. In the evaluation of athletic performance, athletes were asked about their ranks in the years 2020, 2021, and 2022 and were categorized according to the scoring tables specified by the International Association of Athletics Federation. A MANOVA analysis was used to determine whether there was a difference between low (−2% to +5%), medium (+6 to +11%), and high (+12 to +17%) performers among male and female athletes, and a post hoc analysis was used to determine the source of the difference. According to the present findings, there was no significant difference between the imagery and mental toughness levels of athletes with high, medium, and low performance among male athletes. On the contrary, a significant difference was detected between the imagery and mental toughness levels of female athletes with medium and high performances, showing that athletes in the high-performance range had higher levels of imagery (Eta2 = 8) and mental toughness (Eta2 = 10) than athletes in the medium- and low-performance ranges. The findings of this study show that imagery and emotional intelligence are important factors for sports performance. In this context, coaches and sports psychologists can include these parameters in their training programs to achieve the optimal performance range. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Sport Psychology)
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10 pages, 807 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Static Apnea Diving Training on the Physiological Parameters of People with a Sports Orientation and Sedentary Participants: A Pilot Study
by Dmitriy Bezruk, Petr Bahenský, David Marko, Miroslav Krajcigr, Petr Bahenský, Jr., Eva Novák-Nowická and Tomáš Mrkvička
Sports 2024, 12(6), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports12060140 - 22 May 2024
Viewed by 489
Abstract
Diver training improves physical and mental fitness, which can also benefit other sports. This study investigates the effect of eight weeks of static apnea training on maximum apnea time, and on the physiological parameters of runners, swimmers, and sedentary participants, such as forced [...] Read more.
Diver training improves physical and mental fitness, which can also benefit other sports. This study investigates the effect of eight weeks of static apnea training on maximum apnea time, and on the physiological parameters of runners, swimmers, and sedentary participants, such as forced vital capacity (FVC), minimum heart rate (HR), and oxygen saturation (SpO2). The study followed 19 participants, including five runners, swimmers, sedentary participants, and four competitive divers for reference values. The minimum value of SpO2, HR, maximum duration of apnea, and FVC were measured. Apnea training occurred four times weekly, consisting of six apneas with 60 s breathing pauses. Apnea duration was gradually increased by 30 s. The measurement started with a 30 s apnea and ended with maximal apnea. There was a change in SpO2 decreased by 6.8%, maximum apnea length increased by 15.8%, HR decreased by 9.1%, and FVC increased by 12.4% for the groups (p < 0.05). There were intra-groups changes, but no significant inter-groups difference was observed. Eight weeks of apnea training improved the maximum duration of apnea, FVC values and reduced the minimum values of SpO2 and HR in all groups. No differences were noted between groups after training. This training may benefit cardiorespiratory parameters in the population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport Physiology and Physical Performance)
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