Impact Of Omega-3s Paired With Eccentric Exercise

woman athlete planking

Alyssa Bialowas

Enhanced health immunity during the holiday season is crucial to preserve the capacity to train at a high intensity for competition. There is little room for injury, depressed immunity, and illness when remaining at the top of your performance.

omega 3sDiet and supplements are vital to the health immunity equation, and athletes training in the cold and flu season – see Stay Healthy At The Gym | 6 Tips For Athletes are at increased risk of developing infections, and inflammation depressing their health immunity. The Omega-3 Index is a measure of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), found in red blood cells is associated with cardiovascular risk, and can be modified by diet or supplements. It has been suggested that diets high in these fatty acids may a person’s behavior, mood, and athletic performance.

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Inflammation is linked to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, and may manifest as muscle soreness after participating in exercise. A diet that is high in omega-3 fatty acids; increased consumption of fish, decreased consumption of red meat; have lower incidences of developing inflammation. Additionally, a diet with increased levels in omega-3 fatty acids is said to increase elasticity and flexibility in the muscle cell wall, reducing the risk of muscle cell injury during high intensity training. A team of researchers from Germany and America set out to test whether a diet with increased omega-3 fatty acids had an effect on inflammation/ delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following high intensity exercise in athletes.

Related Article: Fill Up On Omega-3s

The Study

There were 69 participants in the study, who were healthy adults over 18 years of age, who did not take any diet supplements that contained omega-3 fatty acids. Subjects with known medical conditions such as hypertension, coronary disease, diabetes, or recent physical injuries were excluded from the study. Participants were randomized into two different groups. The first group was instructed to take 6 capsules of an omega-3 dietary supplement per day, and the second group took 6 capsules of a placebo agent. Both groups participated in the exercise portion of the intervention, which was composed of multiple sets of high intensity eccentric forearm extensions on the non-dominant arm to induce DOMS. Both groups did two sets of extensions, at 30 repetitions.

Blood samples were drawn from participants post-exercise at 0, 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours to measure c-reactive protein (CRP) found in blood plasma, whose levels rise in response to inflammation, and creatine kinase (CK) which catalyses the conversion of creatine and utilizes adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to create phosphocreatine (PCr) and adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Blood was drawn from the non-exercising arm. The functional measurement of DOMS in participants was measured using a visual analog scale, as well as indirect markers of DOMS such as range of motion and torque in elbow extension.

Related Article: 6 Cures For Sore Muscles After HIIT

The Results

Significant differences were found in this study at the 72 and 96 hours, between the two groups in their report on DOMS worst pain scores. No significant differences were found between the two groups in range of motion and torque. There were significant differences between groups in blood lactate levels. Group 1 experienced a decreased blood lactate level after exercise, as well as a lower average of CRP-levels. Group 1 also experienced greater emotional stability compared to Group 2.


A high Omega-3 Index level, so, a lower average of CRP found in blood plasma (whose levels rise in response to inflammation), was seen in the control group who ingested 6 capsules of omega-3 fatty acids per day. In terms of diet and supplementation during the winter season for health immunity, a high index level also suggested an improved quality of life in participants. Omega-3 tissue levels have a protective effect on muscle cells during exercise, and reduce inflammation and subsequent experience of DOMS that follows exercise.

Fish oil is a great source of Omega-3s.

Related Article: Get Outside & Exercise – Your Immune System Will Thank You

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Capodice, J., Hebert, K., Lembke, P., & Swenson, T. (2014). “Influence of Omega-3

Index on Performance and Wellbeing in Young Adults after Heavy Eccentric

Exercise.” Journal of Sport Science and Medicine, 13, 151-156. 

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