Oxidative stress : relationship with exercise and training

Sports Med. 2006;36(4):327-58. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200636040-00004.


Free radicals are reactive compounds that are naturally produced in the human body. They can exert positive effects (e.g. on the immune system) or negative effects (e.g. lipids, proteins or DNA oxidation). To limit these harmful effects, an organism requires complex protection - the antioxidant system. This system consists of antioxidant enzymes (catalase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase) and non-enzymatic antioxidants (e.g. vitamin E [tocopherol], vitamin A [retinol], vitamin C [ascorbic acid], glutathione and uric acid). An imbalance between free radical production and antioxidant defence leads to an oxidative stress state, which may be involved in aging processes and even in some pathology (e.g. cancer and Parkinson's disease). Physical exercise also increases oxidative stress and causes disruptions of the homeostasis. Training can have positive or negative effects on oxidative stress depending on training load, training specificity and the basal level of training. Moreover, oxidative stress seems to be involved in muscular fatigue and may lead to overtraining.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Free Radicals / pharmacology
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals