Effects of a transoceanic rowing challenge on cardiorespiratory function and muscle fitness (2023)

Type of publication:Journal article

Author(s):*Ellis, Chris; *Ingram, Thomas; Kite, Chris; Taylor, Sue; Howard, Liz; Pike, Joanna; *Lee, Eveline; Buckley, John.

Citation:International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2023 Nov 06. [epub ahead of print]

Abstract:Ultra-endurance sports and exercise events are becoming increasingly popular for older age groups. We aimed to evaluate changes in cardiac function and physical fitness in males aged 50-60 years who completed a 50-day transoceanic rowing challenge. This case account of four self-selected males included electro- and echo-cardiography (ECG, echo), cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness measures recorded nine-months prior to and three weeks after a transatlantic team-rowing challenge. No clinically significant changes to myocardial function were found over the course of the study. The training and race created expected functional changes to left ventricular and atrial function; the former associated with training, the latter likely due to dehydration, both resolving towards baseline within three weeks post-event. From race-start to finish all rowers lost 8.4-15.6 kg of body mass. Absolute cardiorespiratory power and muscular strength were lower three weeks post-race compared to pre-race, but cardiorespiratory exercise economy improved in this same period. A structured programme of moderate-vigorous aerobic endurance and muscular training for >6 months, followed by 50-days of transoceanic rowing in older males proved not to cause any observable acute or potential long-term risks to cardiovascular health. Pre-event screening, fitness testing, and appropriate training is recommended, especially in older participants where age itself is an increasingly significant risk