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PLoS One. 2017 Oct 10;12(10):e0186202. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186202. eCollection 2017.

Effect of small-sided team sport training and protein intake on muscle mass, physical function and markers of health in older untrained adults: A randomized trial.

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Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Section of Integrative Physiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen O, Denmark.


The effect of small-sided team sport training and protein intake on muscle mass, physical function, and adaptations important for health in untrained older adults was examined. Forty-eight untrained older (72±6 (±standard deviation, SD) years men and women were divided into either a team sport group ingesting a drink high in protein (18 g) immediately and 3 h after each training session (TS-HP, n = 13), a team sport group ingesting an isocaloric drink with low protein content (3 g; TS-LP, n = 18), or a control group continuing their normal activities (CON, n = 17). The team sport training was performed as ~20 min of small-sided ball games twice a week over 12 weeks. After the intervention period, leg muscle mass was 0.6 kg higher (P = 0.047) in TS-HP, with no effect in TS-LP. In TS-HP, number of sit-to-stand repetitions increased (1.2±0.6, P = 0.054), time to perform 2.45 m up-and-go was lower (0.7±0.3 s, P = 0.03) and number of arm curl repetitions increased (3.5±1.2, P = 0.01), whereas in TS-LP only number of repetitions in sit-to-stand was higher (1.6±0.6, P = 0.01). In TS-LP, reductions were observed in total and abdominal fat mass (1.2±0.5 and 0.4±0.2 kg, P = 0.03 and P = 0.02, respectively), heart rate at rest (9±3 bpm, P = 0.002) and plasma C-reactive protein (1.8±0.8 mmol/L, P = 0.03), with no effects in TS-HP. Thus, team sport training improves functional capacity of untrained older adults and increases leg muscle mass only when ingesting proteins after training. Furthermore, team sport training followed by intake of drink with low protein content does lower fat mass, heart rate at rest and level of systemic inflammation.


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