Can off-training physical behaviors influence recovery in athletes? A scoping review
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Recently, the attention on recovery in sport increased enormously although there is lack of scientific evidence on the role of lifestyle in terms of movement [i.e., physical behaviors (PBs)], apart from sleep. Few studies assessed physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) in athletes. The aims of this scoping review were to answer to the following scientific questions: (1) How active/inactive are competitive athletes out of training? (2) Do off-training PBs affect recovery, performance, and health? (3) What strategies can be implemented to improve recovery using off-training PBs, apart from sleep? From 1,116 potentially relevant articles, nine were eligible for inclusion in this review. The main issues identified were related to the heterogeneity concerning the types of sports, age category, gender, competitive level, sample size, and instruments/devices adopted, the paucity of studies investigating the effects of PBs while awake on recovery, and the lack of experimental designs manipulating PBs while awake to accelerate recovery. Furthermore, PA and SB domains were rarely investigated, while no research articles focused on the combined effect of 24-h PBs. Eight out of nine studies measured PA, seven SB, and two included sleep. Three studies included training practice into PA measurement by the means of accelerometry. Overall, almost the totality of the athletes achieved recommended PA levels although they sustained prolonged SB. In conclusion, more descriptive researches are needed in different athletic populations and settings. Furthermore, experimental designs aimed at investigating the effects of PBs manipulation on recovery and the putative mechanisms are encouraged.