Master's Theses


Health and Human Performance

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Most studies on manipulating recovery variables during interval exercise have focused primarily on aerobic training and performances. It was the purpose of this study to investigate the effects of active versus passive recovery on physical and psychological measures during and between stages of intense exercise in collegiate sprinters. / Ten subjects volunteered to participate in the study. Five males and four females completed the entire testing protocol. Subjects completed two discontinuous graded exercise sprint tests with differing recovery modes (1 active, 1 passive). The exercise test consisted of five 60 second sprints on a treadmill at 10 mph with evenly-stepped elevation increases from 0% grade for stage 1 to 12.5% (females) or 15% (males) during stage 6. The 6th stage was continued until voluntary failure. Subjects had 3 minutes of recovery between each stage of exercise. Subjects in the active recovery group walked at 3 miles per hour during recovery periods, while subjects in the passive recovery group stood stationary on the treadmill. The two tests were administered within a 7 day period, but with a minimum of 2 days rest in between test sessions. Test order was varied using a random cross-over procedure. Dependent variables measured during the test were: heart rate, respiration, and RPE at the end of each recovery and exercise stage; blood lactate at the end of each recovery stage; and time-to-failure in Stage 6. / Data was analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric one way analysis of variance. Heart rate was significantly higher during recovery stages in the active recovery group but not during any exercise stage. Respiration rate was significantly higher for the passive recovery group only during the 2nd stage of exercise. Blood lactate and Rate of Perceived Exertion were not significantly different between active and passive recovery at any point in the test. Time until failure averaged 4.42 seconds longer in the active recovery group but this was not a statistically significant difference. It is concluded from the results of this study that: I) heart rate is significantly higher during active recovery simply reflecting the additional metabolic and circulatory demands of walking compared to standing. 2) Respiration was significantly higher in the second exercise stage during passive recovery. This may represent an oxygen deficit in that there may be less metabolic and circulatory readiness for intense exercise during early stages of passive recovery. 3) Active recovery did not meaningfully contribute to reducing blood lactate levels over a 3 minute recovery period during this exercise test protocol. 4) Though the difference was not significant, the mean time to failure for the active recovery group was >4 seconds better than for passive recovery. A 4 second improvement over a 60 second competition could be a meaningful advantage during competition. And 5) Since rate of perceived exertion was not significantly different during any stage, neither recovery protocol demonstrated an advantage for perceived effort during this type of test.


Dr. Greg Kandt

Date of Award

Summer 2009

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 2009 James Gildon


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