Metabolic responses to soccer-specific intermittent exercise
The intermittent exercise pattern associated with soccer makes analysis of the demands of the sport more complex than in many individual sports. The aim in this thesis was to determine the physiological and metabolic responses to soccer-specific exercise. The demands associated with elite level match-play were evaluated by techniques of motion-analysis. Laboratory based soccer-specific intermittent exercise protocols were then devised to determine the physiological strain associated with soccer and investigate the effects of increased ambient temperature and whole body pre-cooling on performance. The work-rate profiles of elite South American soccer players and English Premier League players, performing in international and club level respectively, were determined. English Premier League players covered a greater total distance during a game than the South American players (P< 0.05). Differences were found for the total distance covered for playing positions with midfield players covering larger distances than forwards. Defenders covered a greater distance jogging backwards than forward players with forwards sprinting a greater distance than defenders. Work-rate was reduced in the second half of the game for all player. The total distance covered by the international players was done mainly at submaximal intensities. High intensity exercise was infrequent and bouts were of short duration. No significant correlations were observed between the work-rate profile and anthropometric charactersitics of individuals. The use of the doubly-labelled water technique to indicate the energy expenditure during soccer match-play was investigated. The doubly-labelled water technique cannot determine energy expenditure during a soccer match as the rate of turnover of the isotopes is too small to allow the accurate estimation of energy expended. Laboratory based soccer-specific intermittent protocols elicited physiological responses that were similar in magnitude and pattern to soccer match-play. Physiological demands fluctuated with exercise intensity during intermittent exercise. Oxygen consumption and heart rate were not significantly different during soccer-specific intermittent exercise and steady-rate exercise at the same average intensity. Rectal temperature did not differ significantly between the two protocols, although intermittent exercise performance resulted in a greater rise in rectal temperature as the protocol progressed (P< 0.05). Sweat production did not differ significantly between the two exercise sessions, though the rating of perceived exertion was significantly higher (P< 0.05), for the session as a whole, during intermittent exercise. Intermittent exercise performance at 26 ° C did not result in significant increases in the physiological, metabolic or thermoregulatory responses when compared to intermittent exercise at 20 ° C. The physiological and metabolic responses were also similar when intermittent exercise was performed after a whole body pre-cooling manoeuvre. Rectal temperature was lowered by the pre-cooling strategy prior to exercise (- 0.6 ± 0.6 ° C, P< 0.05). Rectal temperature during exercise was only significantly lower after pre-cooling than during exercise at 26 ° C. No significant differences were observed in rectal temperature during exercise between the normal and pre-cooled condition. The increase in rectal temperature during the second half of the protocol was significantly greater than the increase observed at 26 ° C or under normal conditions. This may be a consequence of an altered thermoregulatory response due to the pre-cooling manouvre. In conclusion, the work-rate demands of soccer seem to be predominantly aerobic in nature with anaerobic bouts and the performance of specific match activities increasing the demands placed on players. The demands of intermittent exercise are not significantly different from continuous work performed at the same average intensity though there is tentative evidence for a decrease in the efficiency of the thermoregulatory system during intermittent work. No adverse effects upon intermittent exercise performance were noted under conditions of moderate heat stress, while any thermoregulatory benefits of whole body pre-cooling during intermittent work are probably only transient.