The physiological responses to simulated race tests on a track and on a treadmill in Standardbred trotters

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Abstract

Reason for performing study:

It is unclear to what extent the physiological response to a standardised treadmill exercise test simulating racing conditions resembles the circulatory and metabolic response observed after a simulated race on a track.

Objectives:

To compare the physiological responses of a standardised treadmill exercise test used to simulate racing conditions and a simulated race performed on a track on the same Standardbred trotting horses, all in racing condition.

Methods:

Six Standardbred trotters in racing condition performed a standardised inclined treadmill exercise test protocol simulating racing conditions (ST) and a simulated race on a field track (FT). Heart and respiratory rates, haemoglobin, packed cell volume (PCV), glucose, pH, total carbon dioxide and potassium in venous blood and plasma lactate and total plasma protein were measured before and immediately after exercise and during recovery.

Results:

No differences were observed in heart rate, haemoglobin, PCV, total plasma protein, glucose concentrations after exercise and during recovery between the tests. Plasma lactate was higher and total carbon dioxide concentrations and pH were lower in blood at the end of exercise in the FT compared to the ST. Plasma lactate concentrations were still higher 30 min post exercise in the FT compared to the ST. Blood pH returned to resting values at 15 min of recovery for the ST and at 60 min of recovery for the FT. At 60 min of recovery total carbon dioxide concentrations had still not returned to resting values in any of the tests. Respiratory rate at the end of exercise and body temperature at 15 min of recovery was higher after the ST than the FT. Exercise caused an increase in blood potassium concentrations at the end of exercise in both tests, but concentrations were lower after the FT compared to the ST.

Conclusions:

The haemodynamic response to the ST test at the end of exercise and during recovery, assessed from heart rate, Hb, and PCV, was similar to the response observed in the FT test. The differences observed in plasma lactate, blood pH and TCO2 concentrations between the ST and FT show that anaerobic metabolism was greater in the FT as this test included a finish at maximal speeds.

Potential relevance:

The treadmill test used in this study to simulate a race resembles the haemodynamic response but not the anaerobic metabolic response observed after a simulated race on a track.

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