Are you an owl or a lark? This is how circadian rhythms affect sport
Although the most frequent is to belong to the chronotype intermediate, the proportion of owls (evening) or larks (morning) is not negligible, so a coach who knows the biological rhythms of your athletes can develop techniques that optimize their performance and thereby obtain a competitive advantage, as revealed by Juan Antonio Madrid
, Professor of Physiology and director of the Laboratory of Chronobiology and Sleep at the University of Murcia. In fact, one of the implications of the chronotype in sport has to do with competition schedules. Thus, the Cardiac rhtyms they are especially relevant in exercises of high intensity and short duration.
In these cases, the maximum strength is reached in the afternoon (from 4 to 8 p.m.), while in long-term tests with an extreme rise in temperature, a better mark is achieved in the morning. The same happens with the challenges that involve high visual-motor coordination, since the best record is given with a low heart rate, as it happens in the morning.
Regarding the sessions trainingthe Professor of Physical Education, Felipe Isidro , specifies that the exercise carried out in the afternoon is more efficient because the oxygen consumption is greater, higher levels of force and of cardiorespiratory endurance and the body temperature is higher. In addition, practicing sports in the evening can help to release stress. Of course, Isidro qualifies that when the objective is not sports performance but fat reduction or improvement of the sleep cycle, it is convenient to train in the morning. The most technical practices should also be in the morning, which require coordinationbecause it is the moment in which greater attention is achieved.
Of all the circadian rhythms, one of the most influential in physical performance is that of body temperature (central and musculoskeletal), which is lowest in the morning and increases in the late afternoon and early evening. In this sense, the expert in chronobiology points out that a low internal temperature negatively affects the flexibilityto the force and to reaction time. This means that if an athlete is forced to compete in the morning he will need more time to warm up to the same core temperature than if he competes in the afternoon.
Therefore, each athlete should know their body temperature changes, because only then can they be used to plan both their training sessions and their participation in competitions. «during a temporary window After six hours (three before and three after) taking the maximum internal temperature as a reference, the muscles are more flexible and the reflexes are faster, since nerve conduction speed increases. “This would be the best time for sports that require speed and maximum muscular performance, such as sprints, track and field events, and swimming. It is also suitable for anything that requires fine muscle control and the development of precise spatiotemporal sequences, such as gymnastics”, says Juan Antonio Madrid.
The usual thing, as Isidro contributes, is that the body temperature reaches its optimal point for physical activity from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., coinciding with an increase in oxygen consumption and metabolic rate, although he clarifies that what is really important to improve performance is to maintain a continuity and one proper progression in the training stimulus without compromising other aspects such as the balance in nutrient intake and rest.
This opinion is shared by Marcos Vázquez, creator of Revolutionary Fitness, who emphasizes that, with the same warm-up beforehand, he performs somewhat better in the afternoon. Of course, the popularizer explains that it is not good to train near the break time because the elevation of cortisol influences sleep conciliation.
The diet influences the chronobiology. According to María José Rodríguez, professor of Biology and Physiology Applied to Sport at the UOC; it directly impacts the energy balance and metabolism. That is why he ensures that regularity, frequency and timing of meals is important, since aspects such as respecting night fasting, not skipping meals and establishing fixed times for daily intakes allow better synchronization of internal clocks.
In addition, the expert specifies that it is also important to night rest since growth hormone is released during the night, among others, which is related to tissue repair. “Lack of sleep can negatively affect physical performance: not resting enough hours can cause headache, irritability and fatigue, which in turn will influence lower performance and also motivation,” he clarifies.
From a metabolic point of view, the meal times they should also adapt to the chronotype, as Madrid proposes. In this sense, it is worth noting that evening athletes have greater difficulty eating and processing a copious and energetic breakfast first thing in the morning, unlike what happens with morning athletes. On the other hand, the evening meals can delay dinner time without causing a metabolic problem.
Thus, in the event that due to the needs of the competition it is necessary to modify the rhythms of the athletes, the medical team can use the meal times to speed up the synchronization of biological clocks. For example, an early dinner schedule can help evening guests to advance their rhythms and thus fall asleep earlier than usual and, in turn, have breakfast earlier.
In general terms and, going back to the sporting field, it could be said that the owls or evening ones could benefit from exercising in the last hours of the day while the section indicated for the larks or morning ones is concentrated in the early hours of the afternoon.
He chronotypeTherefore, it should be taken into account, especially, in three situations: when scheduling training, if the athlete travels across several time zones in international competitions and when the time of the competition is known well in advance to decide how to maximize the time of the competition. performance.