Background: Exercise is known to be a powerful stimulus for the endocrine system. The hormonal response to exercise is dependent on several factors including the intensity, duration, mode of exercise (endurance versus resistance), and training status of the subject. The aim of the present study was to determine the steroid hormonal response (immediately after a race and 1 week later) to endurance exercise under the real conditions of the classic Athens marathon in a group of well-trained, middle-aged, non-elite athletes.
Methods: Blood samples were drawn 1 week before the race, directly after completion of the race, and 1 week later.
Results: Serum cortisol and prolactin showed distinct rises 1 h after the race and returned to baseline 1 week later. Androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate did not show any changes. Total testosterone as well as free testosterone dropped significantly 1 h after the race but returned to baseline 1 week later.
Conclusion: In this particular group of non-elite, middle-aged marathon runners, the race resulted in an acute increase in serum cortisol and prolactin levels and in a concomitant decline in testosterone level. The aforementioned changes returned to baseline 1 week later.