Training and athletes' emotional well-being

The emotional wellbeing of athletes could be markedly improved through a new training technique, research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the findings showed the 10-20-30 concept has the ability to not only boost fitness, but also reduce stress.

Thomas Gunnarsson, a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen, stated: "We found a reduction in emotional stress when compared to control subjects continuing their normal training based on a recovery-stress questionnaire administered before and after the seven-week training period."

From a performance perspective, it was demonstrated that this training resulted in a 23-second improvement for individuals running 1,500 metres, while almost a minute was knocked off the times of those racing over five km.

The exercise routine typically consists of a one km warm-up at low intensity, followed by three to four blocks of five-minute runs segmented by two minutes of rest.

In each block, participants are required to run at low, moderate and near maximal intensity for different lengths of time.

George Karseras, a Charterered Psychologist, comments:

"What particularly interesting from a psychological perspective from these findings is not so much that fitness levels improved compared to a control group although this is a startling finding - but that psychological well-being also improved compared to the control group (who were training in more traditional ways).

"This effect could be attributed to the perceived benefits of the time being saved from the 10-20-30 routine over and above previous training regimes a shortage of time being a major contributor to reported stress levels. It could also be attributed to the benefit of social engagement as part of the regime as it would appear that runners from different abilities were able to train together whereas in more traditional training you tend to train either alone or with a small number or runners of the same ability.

"The regime therefore appears to combine several benefits for runners over and above simply getting fitter."