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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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The Price of Peak Performance
22 April 1998 7:30 pm
SAN FRANCISCO--Elite athletes sometimes push themselves so hard while training that their performance begins to suffer. Now a physiologist has measured the toll this overtraining can take on athletic ability, the immune system, and mood. Experts say that the finding, reported here today at the Experimental Biology '98 meeting, could lead to a useful test for catching athletes before they overtrain.
Symptoms of overtraining include fatigue, anxiety, elevated resting heart rate, increased susceptibility to illness, and decreased athletic performance. But there's no definitive way to detect overtraining before it's too late to reverse the symptoms. "Every person has a different threshold for overtraining," says Erin Lehmer, an exercise physiology student at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
Lehmer sought physiological markers of overtraining that could be quantified before performance tapers off. She asked a group of five endurance athletes--marathoners, cyclists, and a triathlete--to crank up their training by 30% for a month. Plasma concentrations of glutamine--an amino acid that fuels white blood cell proliferation--dropped 11%, indicating a dive in immune function. Total white blood cell counts also fell, and the study subjects all reported getting sick. Anaerobic power decreased almost 8%, and overall scores on a mood assessment test fell 18%. A control group training at a less intense pace had no changes and remained healthy.
The study identifies factors that could help diagnose this syndrome in its early stages. "People have trouble even identifying what overtraining is," says Bryan Bergman, an exercise physiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Glutamine's potential for signaling overtraining is particularly exciting, he says, because "if you have markers you could take on a regular basis, then you could test elite athletes and rest them when they approach that line."