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Biomed Res Int. 2018 Oct 3;2018:4109796. doi: 10.1155/2018/4109796. eCollection 2018.

Effects of a Short-Term Recreational Team Handball-Based Programme on Physical Fitness and Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health of 33-55-Year-Old Men: A Pilot Study.

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Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development, CIDESD, University Institute of Maia, ISMAI, Maia, Portugal.
Fitness Training and Biomechanics Laboratory, Italian Football Federation, Technical Department, Coverciano, Florence, Italy.
School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.
University Institute of Maia, ISMAI, Maia, Portugal.
Centre of Research, Education, Innovation and Intervention in Sport, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Portuguese Handball Federation, Portugal.
Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Early Start Research Institute, School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia.
Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Sport and Health Sciences Cluster (SHSC), University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Odense, Denmark.
Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.


Recreational team handball is an intermittent high-intensity exercise mode with physiological demands in the range of those found to enhance health and physical fitness of sedentary adults. We examined the effects of a short-term team handball-based training programme on physical fitness and metabolic and cardiovascular health of sedentary 33-55-year-old former male team handball players. Twenty-four participants were divided into team handball (THG; n=15) and control groups (CG; n=9) and evaluated at baseline and postintervention. During 12 weeks, THG performed 2-3 60-min recreational team handball matches weekly (average: 2.2 ± 0.7), and CG maintained an inactive lifestyle. Average heart rate (HR) during matches was 80 ± 7%HRmax, with peak values of 91 ± 6%HRmax. A time-by-group interaction was shown in aerobic performance (p=0.016), postural balance (p=0.019), maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) (p=0.023), resting HR (p<0.001), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (p=0.048), and fasting blood glucose (p=0.052) in favor of THG. THG improved aerobic performance (80%, p<0.001), VO2max (14%, p<0.001), and postural balance (27%, p=0.018). Decreases in resting HR (16%, p<0.001) and fasting blood glucose (7%, p=0.015) and increases in HDL cholesterol (11%, p=0.002) were found in THG. Recreational team handball practice shows positive physical fitness and health-related adaptations, with high attendance, which may contribute to the reduction of the risk of developing lifestyle diseases.

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