The Influence of Training Status on the Physiological Responses to Exercise of Young Girls
McNarry, Melitta Anne
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Exercise training represents a potent stimulus to the parameters of aerobic and anaerobic fitness in adults; whether the same is true in young girls is unclear. For some parameters, such as peak oxygen uptake, the influence of training status remains controversial whilst for other parameters, such as oxygen uptake kinetics, the influence of training status remains simply uninvestigated in young girls. Despite this lack of empirical evidence, it has been suggested for some time now that children may lack trainability and that this may be related to the presence of a maturational threshold below which significant adaptations to training cannot occur. This suggestion requires investigation, not least because the findings of some studies which appear to support this contention may in reality be a reflection of the use of an inappropriate test modality for the investigation of training status influences. The purpose of this thesis was therefore to determine the physiological trainability of girls at different stages of maturation and to investigate the interaction between training status, maturity and exercise modality. To achieve this purpose a series of 5 studies was completed, in which trained and untrained girls completed ramp incremental exercise, constant-work-rate exercise and Wingate exercise on two exercise modalities, one upper (arm crank) and one lower body (cycle). During these tests, cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and mechanical power parameters were assessed. In response to ramp incremental exercise, trained girls were shown to have a higher peak O2, SV and at all stages of maturity, along with an altered SV and fractional muscle oxygen extraction pattern, irrespective of exercise modality. The importance of exercise modality was evident during heavy intensity constant-work-rate exercise in pre-pubertal girls, where training status was only associated with significant influences on O2 kinetics (faster phase II time constant in trained girls) during upper body ergometry. In contrast, pubertal trained girls had faster O2 kinetics during both exercise modalities, an influence which may suggest both central and peripheral adaptations to the delivery and utilisation of oxygen. Exercise modality was also revealed to be an important factor in the demonstration of training status influences during a 30 s Wingate test, with trained girls at all stages of maturity exhibiting higher mechanical power indices during upper body ergometry only. An influence of training status was also evident in the lower fatigue index found in the trained girls at all stages of maturity during both modalities, but no influence was found in the oxidative contribution to the Wingate test. None of these studies revealed an influence of maturity status in determining the magnitude of training status effects. Overall, the 5 studies encompassed within this thesis demonstrate that children are trainable and that this is not moderated by maturity.
PhD in Sport and Health Sciences