n International SportMed Journal - The effects of magnetism on physiological parameters and implications for athletic performance : review article

Volume 9, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



This review examines the molecular, cellular and physiological effects of magnetic fields with particular reference to the possible effects of magnetism on athletic performance. Magnetic fields have been shown to alter sub-atomic, molecular and cellular parameters, including the hydrogen bonding and solubility of water, enzyme activity, gene expression, ion transport, membrane permeability and mitochondrial function. Each of which could possibly have an effect on athletic performance, by enhancing the transport of substrates in and out of cells, up-regulating enzyme activity and enhancing the production of ATP. Magnetism has also been shown to affect the central nervous system altering neurotransmitter and hormone levels as well as altering the excitability of peripheral nerves. This could affect athletic performance by enhancing the neuromuscular control, as well as having a central effect altering the perception of pain and fatigue which, in turn, could result in an athlete being able to train harder. Human and animal studies indicate that magnetic fields may have an effect on the cardiovascular system altering the haematocrit, haemoglobin concentration, micro-vascular and vascular tone. This may affect athletic performance by enhancing the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, as well as the perfusion to active tissue. The musculoskeletal effects of magnetic fields have been well studied and have been shown to up-regulate the growth factors associated with increased bone growth, as well as enhancing the orientation of collagen and bone. This could have important implications for athletes in the prevention and treatment of stress fractures, as well as to enhance bony union following surgery. Today magnetic fields are used to successfully treat fractures, depression, pain, wounds and other medical conditions. Exposure to magnetic fields appears to be safe with very few reported side effects, even after long-term exposure to very strong magnetic fields.

Despite these molecular, cellular and physiological changes induced by magnetic fields, there has, however, been little documented research on the possible effects of magnetism on athletic performance.

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