Aqua cycling for immunological recovery after intensive, eccentric exercise

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Purpose: Alterations in immunological homeostasis induced by acute exercise have been frequently reported. In view of the growing amount of repetitive exercise stimuli in competitive sports, quick recovery plays a superior role. Therefore, we examined whether aqua cycling affects cellular immunological recovery. Methods: After performing 300 countermovement jumps with maximal effort male sport students (n = 20; 24.4 ± 2.2 years) were randomized into either an aqua cycling (AC) or a passive recovery (P) group. AC pedaled in chest-deep water without resistance, while P lay in a supine position. Each recovery protocols lasted 30 min. Blood samples were taken at Baseline, Post-exercise, Post-recovery and 1 h (h), 2 h, 4 h, 24 h, 48 h and 72 h after recovery. Outcomes comprised white blood cell (WBC) counts, lymphocyte (LYM) counts and LYM subsets (CD4/CD8 ratio). Additionally, cellular inflammation markers (neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR), platelet/lymphocyte ratio (PLR) and systemic immune-inflammation index (SII)) were calculated. Results: In both groups, WBC, NLR and SII were significantly increased compared to Baseline up to and including 4 h after recovery. Significant interaction effects were found for WBC (Post-recovery, 2 h and 4 h), NLR (Post-recovery), SII (Post-recovery) and CD4/CD8 ratio (2 h) with values of AC being higher than of P. Conclusions: Interestingly, AC provoked a stronger but not prolonged immunological disturbance than P. NLR and SII may present simple, more integrative markers to screen exercise-induced alterations in immune homeostasis/recovery in athletes and clinical populations. More research is warranted to elucidate the clinical and practical relevance of these findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of applied physiology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1369-1375
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 06.2019


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