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Elite Sport and Biological Age Influence of Extensive or Regular Low to Moderate Exercise on Plasma DHEA-S and Cortisol in Ice-Hockey Players

Author(s): Lars-Eric Uneståhl | Benny Johansson

Journal: Psychology
ISSN 2152-7180

Volume: 04;
Issue: 07;
Start page: 613;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Competitive Sport | Biological Age | Stress | Adrenal Hormones | Emotional Factors | Lifestyle

Based on common comments that elite players in soccer and ice-hockey often looked “older” than nonplayers of the same age, the authors examined the research literature but found that very few studies had been conducted in the area of elite sport and biological age. We therefore decided to conduct a pilot study comparing professional elite ice hockey players (EP) (22 males, M = 24.7 years) with a cohort of amateur players (AP) similar in age but from a lower competitive level (17 males, M = 25.4 years). Subjective ratings of motivational, attitude and emotional factors were combined with measurements of blood concentrations of DHEA-S, cortisol and the DHEA-S/cortisol ratio. DHEA-S and the DHEA-S/cortisol ratio were significantly higher (p < 0.01) while cortisol was unaffected in the AP compared with the EP group. Interpretation of the differences in adrenal hormones level indicated a biological age difference of around 10 years, with the EP group being older. Also, significant differences in the subjective ratings were noted with a more positive self-image, goal-image, attitude and emotions noted in the AP-group. As we have earlier demonstrated a decrease in biological age with mental training of these factors, further studies have to determine how much the higher biological age among the EP-group is due to exercise factors, experiential/personal factors or a combination of these and other factors.
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