Aston Dommel, Jose R. Fernandez, R Drew Sayer. University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1675 University Blvd, AL.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic caused substantial disruptions to collegiate sports including mandatory lockdown orders and rescheduling or cancelling of competitive seasons. These disruptions in training regimens and access to on-campus training facilities caused concern among athletic staff regarding potential adverse changes to athletic performance and body composition in the athletes. The purpose of this study was to determine how weight, muscle mass, fat mass, and vertical jump changed in collegiate athletes while they were on an extended winter break due to COVID-19. Methods: Body weight, fat mass, and muscle mass were measured using bioelectrical impedance analysis in 107 collegiate athletes (n=50 male, n=57 female). Vertical jump was measured using the Just Jump System in 43 athletes (n=8 males, n=35 females). All measures were obtained 2 weeks before winter break (11/9/20-11/20/20) and within 2 weeks of returning to campus (1/4/21-1/15/21). Pre- and post-winter break body composition data were analyzed in SAS 9.4 using paired t-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results are presented as Means ± SE. Results: Among all athletes, a t-test analysis showed a significant gain in body weight from pre to post winter break (1.10 ± 0.37 lbs. p < 0.05). When considered by sex, males experienced significant weight gain (2.48 ± 0.51 lbs. p < 0.05), but weight change was not significant in female athletes Results from ANOVA confirmed that changes in body weight different between males and females (p<0.05). A similar pattern was observed for changes in fat mass. T-test analyses showed a significant gain in fat mass in the entire sample (1.25 ± .25 lbs. p < 0.05) and in males (2.35 ± 0.33 lbs. p < 0.05) but not females (p >0.05). A significant difference in changes in fat mass between male and female athletes was confirmed by ANOVA (p<0.05). Muscle mass and max vertical jump were unchanged during the extended winter break. Conclusion: These data demonstrate potential sex differences in body weight and fat mass change among college athletes during an extended winter break. Future research should determine whether female and male athlete engaged in different dietary and physical activity behaviors during the extended winter break and whether the same trend is seen over a usual winter break. Research such as this may help practitioners develop sex-specific strategies to maintain optimal body composition and athletic performance during extended breaks.

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