August 14, 2022
Acute respiratory infections are common in athletes, but their effects on exercise and sports
performance remain unclear. A sub-group of the International Olympic Committee Consensus Group of
Acute Respiratory Illness in the Athlete, of which researchers from SEMLI (UP’s Sport, Exercise Medicine
and Lifestyle Institute) are a part, conducted a systematic review aimed at determining the short- and
longer-term effects of acute respiratory infections, including SARS-CoV-2 infection, on exercise and
sports performance in athletes.
Results from published research showed that acute respiratory infection was associated with acute
decrements in sports performance outcomes and pulmonary function, but mild acute respiratory
infection had minimal effects on cardiorespiratory endurance. Longer-term detrimental effects of acute
respiratory infection on sports performance were divided. Training mileage, overall training load,
standardised sports performance-dependent points and match play can be affected over time.
The researchers found limited data on the effects of acute respiratory infections on exercise and sports
performance, although several more studies have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit with
small sample sizes. The researchers also found that published studies used very different
methodologies, and they encouraged more research to be done to provide definitive practical and
clinical information around the effects of ARinf on exercise and sports performance.
Reference for this summary:
Kelly Kaulback, David B. Pyne, James H. Hull, Carolette Snyders, Nicola Sewry & Martin Schwellnus
(2022): The effects of acute respiratory illness on exercise and sports performance outcomes in athletes
– a systematic review by a subgroup of the IOC consensus group on “Acute respiratory illness in the
athlete”, European Journal of Sport Science, DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2022.2089914