Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2021  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 102--106

Effect on aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index in university soccer players during the COVID-19 pandemic


Mohammad Ahsan1, Mohd Salim Javed2,  
1 Department of Physical Therapy, College of Applied Medical Sciences, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, KSA
2 Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, GNA University, Punjab, India

Correspondence Address:
Mohd Salim Javed
Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, GNA University, Phagwara, Punjab
India

Abstract

Purpose: Due to increasing prevalence of the COVID-19 virus, athletes were unable to train optimally. This study aimed to determine the differences in aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index in soccer players as the effect of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Methodology: Fourteen male participants were recruited from the university soccer team. Anthropometric characteristics were as follows: age = 20.75 ± 1.48 years, height = 174.35 ± 5.59 cm, body mass = 68.95 ± 6.17 kg, and body mass index = 21.92 ± 0.94 kg/m2. Single-group pretest and posttest designs were selected to conduct this study. A multistage fitness test determined aerobic capacity. ANOVA test was used to identify aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index differences between pretest and posttest on university soccer players. Results: The pretest and posttest were similar in anthropometric characteristics, and there were no significant differences in age (P = 0.382), height (P = 0.106), and body mass (P = 0.068). Our findings showed significant differences between pretest and posttest for aerobic capacity (P = 0.042) and body mass index (P = 0.037) in university soccer players. Conclusion: We conclude that there was a significant effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the soccer player's aerobic capacity and body mass index. These findings may have implications, namely, as functional test's organization, administration, and outcomes while testing the players. Team coaches, trainers, and physiologists must consider the effects of lockdown on the players' performance while preparing players for competition. Further researchers should be established to modify other types of tests, conduct studies with a larger sample and population, and add other variables.



How to cite this article:
Ahsan M, Javed MS. Effect on aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index in university soccer players during the COVID-19 pandemic.Saudi J Sports Med 2021;21:102-106


How to cite this URL:
Ahsan M, Javed MS. Effect on aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index in university soccer players during the COVID-19 pandemic. Saudi J Sports Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 6 ];21:102-106
Available from: https://www.sjosm.org/text.asp?2021/21/3/102/332395


Full Text



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 Introduction



Due to increasing prevalence of the COVID_19 pandemic, athletes were unable to train optimally. All the running activities stopped in various areas, including athletic activities as the effect of lockdown in the country. The lockdown has resulted in numerous modifications in routine, requiring high-performance athletes to seek out other techniques for staying fit and maintaining their training program by safely improvising both home space and training instruments.[1] Many athletes were not able to actively participate in their regular sports activities in their homes. Under such conditions, many tend to be less physically active and have an irregular sleep, longer screen time, and unbalanced diets, resulting in weight gain, increased body mass index, and deterioration in aerobic capacity.[2] The traditional off-season values were compared to the COVID-19 quarantine. They reported that the fat and body mass increased, but they decreased sprint and countermovement jump abilities in Brazilian professional soccer athletes.[3]

The examination of a sportsmen's physical and functional performance is a series of investigative tests carried out over some time. The rapid assessment method is one of the most valuable and appropriate methods from the practical application perspective, while the level of performance is determined by quantitative indicators.[4] There are many fitness tests available to measure aerobic fitness for many team sports.[5],[6] The most common field test to predict aerobic capacity is the 20-m multistage fitness test (MSFT). This test is being used by many teams, especially in English Premier League.[7] In this test, players run forward and backward in a movement resembling the pattern of soccer games. Aerobic capacity can predict the performance in a competitive match. Aerobic fitness evaluated by laboratory-based tests correlates highly (r = 0.78–0.87) with both MSFT and the YO-Yo intermittent recovery test.[8] The MSFT offers high accuracy and repeatability compared to the aerobic capacity measured directly under laboratory conduction.[9]

Many sports scientists and scholars have been focused on performance assessment. However, there is a lack of research investigation to determine the differences in the soccer players' aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the effect on aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index in university soccer players during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hypothesized that the aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index had been affected among university soccer players during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using aerobic capacity independently or in tandem may assist coaches, physical therapists, sports medicine, strength, and conditioning professionals in identifying the performance barrier or injury risks during sports participation by identifying physical and functional deficiencies in movement.

 Methodology



Study design

This study used a quantitative approach; the pretest–posttest research design was used to conduct this study.

Ethical consideration

All the participants taken part in this study signed written consent form.

Participants

Fourteen male participants were recruited, who represented in the interuniversity competition at least two times. Anthropometric characteristics were as follows: age = 20.75 ± 1.48 years, height = 174.35 ± 5.59 cm, body mass = 68.95 ± 6.17 kg, and body mass index = 21.92 ± 0.94 kg/m2.

Eligibility criteria

All the participants were healthy males. Participants participated at least two times in an interuniversity competition. They do not have any record of musculoskeletal injury since the last 6 months.

Test

A weighing scale cum stadiometer was used to determine the height and body mass of participants. The body mass index was calculated by dividing the participants' weight in kilogram by height in meters. The aerobic capacity was measured using the MSFT. The MSFT to measure aerobic capacity in children, adolescents, and adults was developed in the early 1980s. The test was created to provide a practical and cost-effective prediction of aerobic capacity in a field setting. Research has indicated that the MSFT is a valid predictor of aerobic capacity.[9] To conduct the MSFT, standardized equipment such as 20-m shuttle run space, cones, metronome, and performance recording sheets were used.

Procedure

The data collection process begins with explaining the test implementation and 15 min warming up, followed by stretching exercises. Data were collected two times, namely at the beginning of the study (pretest) after 3 weeks of the first lockdown and the end (posttest) after 3 weeks of lockdown open. Measurements (pretest and posttest) were carried out using a weighing scale cum stadiometer, metronome, 20-m open space, cones, and data score sheet. The MSFT was performed as participants were asked to run toward opposite 20-m sections in a shuttle format in response to an audible signal (beep) produced by a metronome (audio player). The speed was 8.5 km/h in the 1st min and increased by 0.5 km/h every minute after that. Before the next beep sounded, participants had to finish a level. Participants were expected to complete as many shuttles as possible. If a participant fails to maintain the prescribed pace for two consecutive shuttles or withdraws from the test due to exhaustion, the test will be terminated. The following formula was used given by Flouris et al. to calculate aerobic capacity.[10]

Aerobic capacity (mL/min/kg) = (maximum attained speed [km/h] × 6.65 − 35.8) × 0.95 + 0.182.

All the tests were conducted using standard procedures and instructions.[11],[12],[13]

Statistical analysis

All the statistical analysis were performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software for Windows (IBM SPSS version 20.0, New York, NY, USA). Before analysis, the data were checked for outliers and normality with the Shapiro–Wilk test. One way analysis of variance (ANOVA) test was performed to determine the differences in aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index for university soccer players. The P = 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance.

 Results



[Table 1] shows descriptive statistics of pretest and posttest results and reveals increases in body mass (Diff. = 4.23, Per. = 5.95) and body mass index (Diff. = 0.74, Per. = 3.31) as the result of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.{Table 1}

[Table 2] shows descriptive statistics of pretest and posttest results and reveals a decrease in aerobic capacity (Diff. = −7.53, Per. = 1.55) (ml/kg/min) as the result of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.{Table 2}

[Table 3] shows the one-way ANOVA for pretest and posttest results and reveals an insignificant difference for body mass (F = 3.61, P = 0.068). In contrast, significant differences were found in body mass index (F = 4.84, P = 0.037) and aerobic capacity (F = 4.57, P = 0.042) for university soccer players as the result of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.{Table 3}

 Discussion



The results showed that lockdown significantly impacted the aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index among soccer players during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were changes in aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index as 1.55%, 5.95%, and 3.31%, respectively, because of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic among university soccer players.

The result of the study was taken in June 2020 (pretest) and September 2020 (posttest) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of this study showed that there were statistically significant differences in aerobic capacity and body mass index. These findings are supported by the study results conducted in normal conditions by Sliwowski et al. They used the Multistage Shuttle Run Test to measure the aerobic capacity of junior male soccer players from Lech Pozna.[14] In their study, the authors demonstrated favorable adaptive changes in the studied physiological indicators, such as aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold, between two dates of measurements – before the preparatory period and after the end of the preparatory period – in their study on two dates over 8 weeks of the preparatory period. Ali et al. reported a significant difference in aerobic capacity among athletes. Using modified Bruce protocol, they measure aerobic capacity in the laboratory setting with a graded exercise test performed on a treadmill.[13] According to one of the study findings, a group of semi-professional male football players had their hamstring muscle strength lowered after 25 days of house confinement due to the COVID-19 lockdown.[15] These results are not directly comparable because the muscles, training modality, and muscular contraction used in the study were all different. While drawing conclusions, keep in mind that the COVID19 situation was unique and cannot be easily compared to any other instance.

Rampinini et al. showed that changes in between and within periods were observed using a mixed model during the lockdown. Within-period changes in aerobic fitness showed a significant change (P < 0.001) after COVID-19 lockdown and a significant reduction (P < 0.001) during summer break. When comparing the COVID-19 closure to the 2019–2020 competitive season (P < 0.01) and the summer holiday (P < 0.001), there were significant differences between periods.[16] Earlier studies established scientific evidence that short-distance periods could negatively influence body composition, aerobic capacity, muscle power, and sprint ability in soccer players.[17],[18] Koundourakis et al. revealed that 6 weeks of detraining could significantly decrease aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and speed for professional soccer players.[19] García-Aliaga et al. analyzed physical match activity in Spanish LaLiga™ during two blocks of 11 matches (first 11 games of the season 2019/2020 and 11 games after the COVID-19 lockdown).[20] Distance, high-speed running, sprinting, and the quantity of high-intensity movements were all reported to have decreased significantly. Changes in physical fitness and body composition have been linked to decreased match performance.[21],[22] Grazioli et al. evaluated changes in neuromuscular, body composition, and cardiorespiratory indices in Brazilian professional soccer players after regular off-season intervals (24 days) and COVID-19 quarantine (63 days); these players' body mass and fat mass increased significantly.[3] Our findings match an earlier study that found that the COVID-19 quarantine period has a stronger negative impact on body composition than the off-season period.[3] Furthermore, the findings of Korkmaz et al. demonstrated that semi-professional soccer players experienced significant losses in anaerobic power and body muscle mass after 89 days of lockdown.[23]

As the COVID-19 epidemic may spread periodically and outbreaks may recur in large cities in the future, all this information will be useful not only for understanding the impact of COVID-19 on current soccer performance but also for anticipating and minimizing the impact of future disruptions to any sports competitions due to this pandemic. Furthermore, comparing the results of physical capacity and body composition tests conducted before and after the lockdown could yield intriguing results and address the question of whether decreased match performance was associated with a decline in physical fitness.

 Conclusion



We conclude that there was a significant effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the soccer player's aerobic capacity, body mass, and body mass index. These findings may have implications, namely, functional test's organization, administration, and outcomes while testing the players. Team coaches, trainers, and physiologists must consider the effects of lockdown on the players' performance while preparing players for competition. Further researchers should be established to modify other types of tests, conduct studies with a larger sample and population, and add other variables.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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