Background: Cycling is an endurance sport relying mainly on aerobic capacity to provide fuel during long-duration cycling events. Athletes are constantly searching for new methods to improve this capacity through various nutritional and ergogenic aids.s
Purpose: The aim of the study was to find out the effect of Ashwagandha on the cardiorespiratory endurance capacity, that is, aerobic capacity of elite Indian cyclists.
Materials and methods: Forty elite (elite here refers to the participation of the athlete in at least state-level events) Indian cyclists were chosen randomly and were equally divided into experimental and placebo groups. The experimental group received 500 mg capsules of aqueous roots of Ashwagandha twice daily for eight weeks, whereas the placebo group received starch capsules.
Outcome measures: The baseline treadmill test for the cyclists were performed to measure their aerobic capacity in terms of maximal aerobic capacity (VO(2) max), metabolic equivalent, respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and total time for the athlete to reach his exhaustion stage. After eight weeks of supplementation, the treadmill test was again performed and results were obtained.
Results: There was significant improvement in the experimental group in all parameters, whereas the placebo group did not show any change with respect to their baseline parameters. There was significant improvement in the experimental group in all parameters, namely, VO(2) max (t = 5.356; P < 0.001), METS (t = 4.483; P < 0.001), and time for exhaustion on treadmill (t = 4.813; P < 0.001) in comparison to the placebo group which did not show any change with respect to their baseline parameters.
Conclusion: Ashwagandha improved the cardiorespiratory endurance of the elite athletes.
Keywords: Ashwagandha; Indian cyclist; cardiorespiratory endurance.