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Vet J. 2003 May;165(3):228-33.

The effects of overtraining on blood volumes in standardbred racehorses.

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Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


Red blood cell hypervolaemia has been used for diagnosis of overtraining in racehorses, and has been suggested as a mechanism of this cause of loss of racing performance. The effects of overload training (OLT) on the plasma, blood and red cell volumes were investigated in a prospective study in 12 Standardbred horses. Measurements of blood volumes were made after eight and 32 weeks of an exercise training study. Horses were randomly allocated to OLT and control groups (n=6) after 16 weeks of training. Training duration and intensity were increased more rapidly for the OLT group from week 16, until overtraining was diagnosed in week 32. There were no significant effects of OLT on plasma, blood or total red cell volumes between weeks eight and 32. These volumes significantly decreased with time. Maximal haematocrit after exercise was lower (P<0.05) in the OT group in week 32 (0.57+/-0.003% L/L) than in week eight (0.59+/-0.004 L/L). It was concluded that red cell hypervolaemia was not a mechanism for the decrease in capacity for exercise that occurs with overtraining.

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