Foto: UiT - Norges arktiske universitet
Foto: UiT - Norges arktiske universitet


The Female Endurance Athlete (FENDURA): Exploring the missing link in exercise physiology

Boye Welde
PERIOD: 2020 – 2023

Video about Fendura 

The differences between men and women in physical development accelerate from the onset of puberty, mainly driven by changes in circulating levels of sex-specific hormones. Thus, women will respond differently to exercise than men, and should not be treated as “small men”. However, our current understanding of exercise physiology is mainly developed via research on men, and there is sparse understanding of women’s exercise physiology due to limited consideration for sex-specific differences such as the influence of the menstrual cycle and use of hormonal contraceptives.

The primary objective of the female endurance athlete (FENDURA) project is to provide the scientific basis for optimising long-term training responses and performance development of female athletes in endurance sports and in the prevention of health-related side-effects specific to female athletes. We will 1) Compare the physiological, performance and training development of female world-class competitors in cross-country skiing and biathlon to those who had similar potential, but did not succeed; 2) Examine how the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives influence training quality, performance, and possible side-effects in female cross-country skiers and biathletes; and 3) Investigate the effects of periodizing strength and endurance training according to the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle on the development of strength and endurance capacity in female cross-country  skiers and biathletes.

Through these studies, we aim to develop new knowledge that will increase coaches and athletes’ focus on the development of female endurance athletes, and hopefully improve the performance of female endurance athletes. In addition, we aim to develop the understanding that will benefit the health of all women participating in sports and possibly, as well, enhance sport participation.

This project, led by the School of Sport Sciences at UiT The Arctic University of Norway and financed by the Tromsø Research Foundation, will be established in collaboration with the main partners; the Norwegian Olympic Top Sport Centre (Olympiatoppen) and the NTNU Centre for Elite Sport Research, as well as national and international research networks. We will assure high-quality academic training of upcoming researchers to ensure sustainability of research activity in the project sphere, and build a solid foundation in Northern Norway for an inter-disciplinary, world-leading research group focusing on female physiology, exercise and performance, which would place UiT as an internationally recognized academic institution in this field.

Mediaomtale (utvalg): 

TV innslag på NRK Nordnytt  24. oktober
Radio innslag på NRK sport 2. desember
NRK nettartikkel – USAs gullgrep – kartla spillernes mentruasjonssyklus 3. desember
Pressemelding fra UiT om tildeling til FENDURA