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High intensity endurance and strength training in water polo Olympic team players: impact on arterial wall properties

Session Physical activity, exercise, and sports

Speaker Evangelos Oikonomou

Event : ESC Congress 2019

  • Topic : preventive cardiology
  • Sub-topic : Physical Inactivity and Exercise
  • Session type : Rapid Fire Abstracts

Authors : E Oikonomou (Athens,GR), G Siasos (Athens,GR), G Marinos (Athens,GR), M Zaromitidou (Athens,GR), D Athanasiou (Athens,GR), P Foundoulakis (Athens,GR), S Tsalamandris (Athens,GR), A Antonopoulos (Athens,GR), CV Mistakidi (Athens,GR), C Vlachopoulos (Athens,GR), D Tousoulis (Athens,GR)

E Oikonomou1 , G Siasos1 , G Marinos1 , M Zaromitidou1 , D Athanasiou1 , P Foundoulakis1 , S Tsalamandris1 , A Antonopoulos1 , CV Mistakidi1 , C Vlachopoulos1 , D Tousoulis1 , 1Hippokration Hospital, University of Athens, 1st Department of Cardiology - Athens - Greece ,


Background: Regular physical activity is recommended for health improvement. However the upper intensity threshold associated with best health outcome is difficult to determine. Water polo (WP) Olympic athletes present unique characteristics with very high intensity work, long training sessions and a combination of endurance and strength training.

Purpose: To examine how long term, intense mixed endurance and strength training affect peripheral and central hemodynamics and biomarkers of cardiovascular health.

Methods: The study population consisted of 20 WP Olympic team player’s, 20 matched recreational active subjects (RA) and 20 sedentary control subjects (Cl). Reflected waves were assessed with the Augmentation index (AIx), central aortic stiffness with pulse wave velocity (PWV) and endothelial function with flow mediated dilation (FMD).

Results: From Cl subjects to RA active subjects and to WP players there was a stepwise decrease in aortic systolic pressure (116±16 mmHg vs. 107±14 mmHg vs. 106±6 mmHg, p=0.03) while there was no difference in branchial systolic pressure (p=0.52). There was also a stepwise improvement in AIx (-4.22±9.97 % vs. -6.97±11.28 % vs. -12.14±6.62 %, p=0.03) and FMD (6.61±1.78 % vs. 7.78±1.98 % vs. 8.3±2.05%, p=0.04) according to the intensity of exercise and WP players had lower AIx and higher FMD compared to RA subjects and to Cl subjects.

Conclusions: In young WP Olympic team players intense mixed endurance and strength training has no adverse impact on arterial wall properties and endothelial function with a parallel improvement in central hemodynamics. These findings highlight that there are no definitive data to support on any adverse vascular related impact of ultra-endurance training while mixed endurance and strength training may be associated with a favorable vascular profile.

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