Excessive sports training can have negative effects on mood

New research conducted by UAB with road cyclists, published in the journal PeerJhighlights the importance of tracking the load of a training session using heart rate variability measurement tools, to promote uptake and injury prevention, and to compare the training intensity with next morning moods.

To build fitness, athletes must apply stress to the body, and then through recovery the body adapts and is able to handle greater stress in the next training cycle. Maintaining a reasonable level of stress and promoting recovery are essential to improve the performance of athletes, as well as to prevent injuries and problems associated with overtraining.

Researchers from the Sport Psychology Laboratory and the UAB Sport Research Institute studied the effects of training intensity on road cyclists in terms of mood states and their ability to adapt to higher training loads, assessed using heart rate variability (HRV).

The research, published in the journal PeerJ, was conducted through a six-week analysis of the responses of five recreational cyclists about the physical stress they endured while training. Once completed, the cyclists also answered questionnaires on how they perceived the physical exertion of their training. The next morning, they measured their HRV and recorded their mood.

The researchers argue that a change in mood and/or HRV – measured using the HFnu parameter (high frequency band normalized) – in athletes the day after training could serve as an indicator of the intensity of training, indicating whether the training was adequate or too intense for the physical condition of the athlete. The study observed that the more intense the training, the worse the mood the next day, and also the lower the HRV. In contrast, high HFnu was associated with improved mood in athletes, indicating that there is a relationship between HRV and mood states.

“The objective of the research was to explore the relationship between three aspects: training, heart rate variability and mood,” explains researcher from the Department of Basic Psychology at UAB, Carla Alfonso. “With this study, we sought to know when an athlete must rest, because his system is saturated, and when an athlete can train, with more or less intensity, because his body is ready to assimilate the training load.”

The results obtained are a first step in “the establishment of a monitoring system that takes into account both internal and external training loads, as well as the mood and heart rate variability of the patient. athlete, with the aim of helping him adapt to his training and prevent injuries that can come with overtraining”, concludes Professor Lluís Capdevila of the Department of Fundamental, Developmental and Educational Psychology of the UAB, and co- author of the study.

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Material provided by Autonomous University of Barcelona. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Evelyn C. Tobin