Preteens Metabolically Comparable to Trained Athletes

Prepubertal children have comparable metabolic, fatigue profiles to endurance athletes
Prepubertal children have comparable metabolic, fatigue profiles to endurance athletes

HealthDay News — Prepubertal children are metabolically comparable to adult endurance athletes, and less fatiguable with high intensity exercise than untrained adults, according to a study published online April 24 in the Frontiers in Physiology.

Anthony Birat, from Université Clermont Auvergne in France, and colleagues compared fatigue rates for prepubertal children and well-trained adult endurance athletes during high-intensity exercise. Twelve prepubertal boys, 12 untrained men, and 13 male endurance athletes completed an incremental test to determine the power output at maximum oxygen uptake (PVO2max) and a Wingate test to assess maximal anaerobic power (Pmax) and relative decrease in power output (the fatigue index [FI]). Oxygen uptake (VO2), heart rate (HR), and capillary blood lactate concentration ([La]) were also measured. 

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The researchers observed no significant difference in the Pmax-to-PVO2max ratio between children and endurance athletes (1.9 ± 0.5 versus 2.1 ± 0.2); the ratio was lower than that of untrained men (3.2 ± 0.3). Children and endurance athletes had similar relative energy contribution derived from oxidative metabolism, but this was greater than among untrained men over the second half of the Wingate test. Recovery kinetics of VO2, HR, and [La] post-exercise were faster in children and endurance athletes than in untrained men. FI was also comparable between prepubertal children and endurance athletes, and was lower than among untrained men.

"Prepubertal children were observed to be metabolically comparable to well-trained adult endurance athletes, and were thus less fatigable during high-intensity exercise than untrained adult," the authors write.

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