27.03.2019 change 27.03.2019

How to improve the preparation of athletes and astronauts

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Analysis of physiological data will offer new ways to better train Polish Olympic athletes and monitor the preparation of astronauts for spaceflight. Researchers analyse the relationship between the frequency of heart contractions and the frequency and depth of breath of athletes.

As part of the new approach, researchers evaluate and parameterise the cause and effect relationships between the work of the circulatory system and respiratory activity. Methods of causal analysis have already been used in Polish Olympic athletes by Dr. Marcel Młyńczak from the Faculty of Mechatronics, Warsaw University of Technology and Dr. Hubert Krzysztofiak from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Centre for Sports Medicine. Their work has been published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

"Ultimately, our results are intended to be used to profile the preparation of athletes for the major sport events, to design the most optimal individual training plans, and to enable trend analysis in natural conditions, outside the laboratory" - explains Dr. Marcel Młyńczak.

Researchers analysed the relationship between the frequency of heart contractions and the frequency and depth of breath. The tests were carried out during the transition from lying to standing. Researchers argue that their approach will allow to match the most effective training plans to specific sport disciplines. They also investigated the relationship between key cardiac parameters and single inhalations and exhalations of athletes.

"The differences in the parameters of causal analysis alone allow for a good distinction between athletes and the control group, and added to the traditional analysis, they will allow for even more accurate and - most importantly - objective profiling of the athlete`s level of performance" - explains Dr. Młyńczak.

Dr. Młyńczak`s cooperation with dr. Krysztofiak started in 2015. It is a combination of experience and engineering and medical knowledge. Researchers plan research covering issues specific to certain disciplines and groups of Polish best athletes. They are also co-authors of the study conducted on analog astronauts.

Manned space flights require research in various fields, including human neuropsychology and physiology. Analog space missions enable tests in conditions simulating flight and presence in space. The researchers worked with analog astronauts in the hangar at the airport near Piła, where conditions similar to a moon mission had been created. The cardiologic and respiratory data were compared with the results of athletes. 6 people were monitored for 14 days - at rest, during exercise and during mission-specific activities such as digging or repairing a rover. Researchers used Pneumonitor 2, a prototype device that allows to monitor of several physiological parameters. The results of astronauts did not deviate from the norm, although they were usually slightly worse than the average for athletes.

The researchers concluded that the new method could be useful when planning a space mission schedule. However, they pointed out that this would require the development of a new technical solution associated with wearing electrodes. It would have to take into account the sweating problem of astronauts wearing three-layer suits. Publication on this subject appeared in the journal Science Direct.

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