Squash, age, fitness and risk

Squash, Age, Fitness And Risk: New research conducted by T. Reilly and D. Halsall at the Centre for Sport and Exercise at Liverpool John Moore University has shown that regular competitive squash has considerable health benefits but that older recreational players should approach the game with due care.

In the research, a sample of older competitive squach players (mean age 42.4), a group of younger competitive players (mean age 22.4) and a group of recreational players (mean age 45.3) were compared. The research methods involved comparing measurements of body mass, percentage body fat, heart rate, blood pressures, cholesterol and VO2 max levels. Heart rate levels were tested during play..

The research conclusion showed that the compet-itive squash players had anthropometric and fitness profiles suggestive of accrued training effects on body composition and cardiovascular status. 'The older competitive squash players in general had pro-files more closely resembling those of the younger players than the age-matched recreational players,' say the findings. Casual participation in squash seems to have little favourable effect on fitness profiles among older players. Of concern is the fact that such participation imposes greater physiological strain on these players compared to well-trained counterparts who practise more frequently. The older competitive player appears to adjust the exercise intensity better to their capabilities than do the recreational players. The former were exercising at 85% of their maximal heart rate, the latter at 95%..

The research showed that recreational players reached higher perceived exertion in their matches than did competitive players. The research states: 'Whilst the ratings were higher for breathing than for whole-body and muscles in the other groups, the older inactive group reached levels for both whole-body exertion and breathing corresponding to a feel-ing of hard to very hard. It may be that competitive factors, inherent to the game, force an excessively high exercise intensity in this group, whereas skilled players can regulate the exercise to one they find more acceptable. Older, untrained individuals should be cautioned to approach the game with due care.'
Reference: 'Physiological effects of squash participation in different age-groups and levels of play.' T Reilly abd D.L. Halsall..

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