Wehrlin, J. P., & Steiner, T. (2012). Influence of endurance training on the development of hemoglobin mass during adolescence. Presentation 2410 at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, California; May 29-June 2, 2012.

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"It is well known, that adult elite endurance athletes are characterized by about 30% higher hemoglobin mass (Hbmass) than untrained subjects. However, it is unclear, if this is due to endurance training, a better genetic predisposition of the athletes combined with a selection process, or other factors. Interestingly, Hbmass at age 16 years is reported to be not different between endurance athletes and untrained subjects."

This investigation studied the development of hemoglobin mass in elite endurance athletes (N = 10) and age-matched untrained controls (N = 12) during adolescence with a longitudinal approach. Measures were taken every 0.5 years from age 16 to age 18.5 yrs (T1 - T6).

Hemoglobin mass increased in the athletic group significantly more than in the control group. There were no differences between the groups in the initial hemoglobin-mass level and in the rate of increase per year between the athletic and control groups. The rates of increase were individually highly different and ranged between 2.5 and 9.3% among the athletes and between 1.2 and 16.9% in the control group. The correlation between the increase in hemoglobin mass and the increase in body weight was r = 0.81.

Implication. Hemoglobin mass increases during adolescence, but there is no difference in increase rates between national team endurance athletes and untrained Ss. The amount of endurance training therefore, does not seem to influence the development of hemoglobin mass in adolescent Ss. The increase in hemoglobin mass is strongly correlated with the increase in bodyweight and increase rates are highly individually different. Other unknown factors may be responsible for these different rates of increase in hemoglobin mass during adolescence.

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