Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 27-33

First online:

Physiological responses in tennis and running with similar oxygen uptake

  • Alexander FerrautiAffiliated withGerman Sport University Cologne, Institute of Sports Games, Carl-Diem-Weg 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany
  • , Michael F. BergeronAffiliated withGeorgia Prevention Institute, Medical College of Georgia, HS-1640, Augusta, GA 30912–3710, USA
  • , Babette M. PluimAffiliated withRoyal Netherlands Lawn Tennis Association, Displayweg 4, 3821 BT Amersfoort, The Netherlands
  • , Karl WeberAffiliated withGerman Sport University Cologne, Institute of Sports Games, Carl-Diem-Weg 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany

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The purpose of the study was to compare selected physiological responses during singles tennis match play and continuous running at a similar mean oxygen uptake (\(\dot V{\rm O}_{\rm 2} \) ). The study consisted of two main parts, which were separated by 1 week. In the first part, 12 nationally ranked senior tennis players [six females and six males; 47.2 (6.6) years old and 47.0 (5.4) years old, respectively] each completed a 2-h singles tennis match (TE). Mean \(\dot V{\rm O}_{\rm 2} \) during TE [23.1 (3.1) ml·kg–1·min–1 for the women and 25.6 (2.8) ml·kg–1·min–1 for the men] was measured by a portable spirometry-telemetry system and corresponded to 56% (women) or 54% (men) of their respective maximum \(\dot V{\rm O}_{\rm 2} \) . In the second part, the relative \(\dot V{\rm O}_{\rm 2} \) data measured during TE were used to set a similar workload during a 2-h treadmill run at a constant level (RU). At the measured time points, heart rate [140.1 (15.5) beats·min–1 vs 126.4 (15.1) beats·min–1], lactate concentration [1.53 (0.65) mmol·l–1 vs 1.01 (0.38) mmol·l–1] and glucose concentration [5.45 (0.84) mmol·l–1 vs 4.34 (0.56) mmol·l–1] in capillary blood, as well as the respiratory exchange ratio [0.93 (0.03) vs 0.88 (0.03)], were higher (P<0.05) in TE compared to RU. Serum concentrations of free fatty acids increased (P<0.05) during both work loads [from 0.25 (0.15) mmol·l–1 to 1.31 (0.44) mmol·l–1 in TE and from 0.22 (0.17) mmol·l–1 to 1.24 (0.35) mmol·l–1 in RU]. Post-exercise urine concentrations of epinephrine [0.17 (0.14) µmol·l–1 vs 0.08 (0.04) µmol·l–1] and norepinephrine [1.27 (0.59) µmol·l–1 vs. 0.55 (0.33) µmol·l–1] were higher in TE (P<0.05). These results indicate a stronger metabolic emphasis on glycolysis and glycogenolysis and an overall enhanced sympathoadrenal activity during tennis match play compared to continuous running exercise at a similar mean \(\dot V{\rm O}_{\rm 2} \) .

Portable spirometry Intermittent exercise Catecholamines Carbohydrate Fat metabolism