ESSR’s Top and Cutting-Edge Content from 2023

ESSR’s Top and Cutting-Edge Content from 2023

Sandra K. Hunter, Ph.D., FACSM |  Jan. 31, 2024

Several of the highest impact and most read articles over the last five years that have been published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews (ESSR) include topics of sitting too much (2010), the effects of exercise on the gut microbiome (2019) and exercise snacks to improve cardiometabolic health (2022). The content of these articles continues to be highly relevant and are excellent examples of the research reviews regularly published in ESSR that summarize a contemporary problem and identify the most significant gaps in the knowledge base.  

The unique focus and mission of ESSR is to provide forward-thinking and high-quality reviews on the most contemporary scientific, medical and research-based topics in sports medicine and exercise science. The charge to feature forward-thinking and cutting-edge content is accomplished by inviting authors to provide either the rationale for a novel hypothesis or to summarize work on a contemporary issue and identify the key gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed to move the field forward. The editorial board play a significant role in recruiting and inviting reviews in their areas of expertise, although we welcome unsolicited ideas and reviews. The journal publishes four issues each year: available by January, April, July and October. 

Several metrics provide the journal with information on the success of achieving the mission of ESSR. One metric is related to the number of times the content is either read (viewed) or mentioned. The read count, either through an institutional subscription to the journal (Ovid) or from the ACSM website, will typically accumulate the longer it has been published. The article with the top read counts published in 2023 include the contemporary topics of sex differences in athletic performance and the transgender athlete, eccentric exercise to improve muscle weakness after injury, and the benefits of ketogenic diets with aging. Other highly viewed articles in 2023 include the topics of exercise as a therapy to prevent cellular aging, pain management with aging, and the neuromechanics of the rate of force development

An additional metric to identify the most impactful articles is the number of mentions and attention of an article (Altmetric score: identified with a colorful donut symbol). The article with the most mentions in 2023 (346) was on the topic of a dietary strategy for optimizing visual range in athletes which also received high read counts, followed by exercise as a therapy to prevent cellular aging and the buffering effects of physical activity on daily stress.  

The journal impact factor (JIF) is another metric that indicates the relative influence of our collective articles. The JIF provides a normalized citation count by calculating the ratio between the number of times articles were cited in a two-year period relative to the number of articles published by a journal in that period. The impact factor released in mid-2023 for the 2021 and 2022 citations was 5.7 which ranks ESSR as 6th of 87 among sport science journals and 8th of 79 among physiology journals.  

ESSR aims to publish ~24-30 high impact reviews each year. For 2024 and early 2025 we currently have 35 articles in various stages of development or already published. The topics of these articles reflect many of the topical categories of the ACSM Annual Meeting. The areas with the greatest numbers of prospective articles are (1) Skeletal Muscle, Bone and Connective Tissue; (2) Physical Activity/Health Promotion Interventions; and (3) Cardiovascular, Immune, Renal, and Respiratory Physiology. Articles that are likely to generate notable interest include the following topics: 

  • Sex differences in neuromuscular ageing and muscle stem cell regulation 

  • Daily step counts as a key public health metric 

  • Neuroplasticity of the brain induced by physical activity and aging 

  • Heat tolerance 

  • Strategies to increase activity levels 

  • Epigenetics and skeletal muscle 

  • Exercise effects on gut microbiome 

  • Sleep and insulin resistance 

  • Relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) 

  • Aerobic training effects on metabolic disease 

We hope our content will continue to be of interest to you and, as always, encourage you to send us suggestions on topics and authors we should consider for inclusion in the journal. Given that 2024 is an Olympic year we welcome high quality submissions that address lessons learned from research on the limits of human physical performance of all people of all ages and abilities in both males and females, as well as the importance of the health benefits of physical activity.   

Sandra HunterSandra K. Hunter, Ph.D., FACSM, is a professor at Marquette University in the Exercise Science Program, Department of Physical Therapy, and also serves as director of the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center at Marquette. She has published more than 150 referred articles and has served as the primary advisor of >70 undergraduate students, and multiple doctoral and master’s students and postdoctoral research associates. Dr Hunter leads an active and federally-funded research program studying the sex and age differences in neuromuscular function, exercise performance and exercise training in healthy and clinical populations such as people with diabetes and Long COVID. She has received more than $16 million in grants to fund her research. Dr. Hunter joined ACSM in 2000 and became a fellow in 2005. She has served as an associate editor for Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® since 2013. Dr. Hunter currently serves as the editor-in-chief of Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews