The influence of fitness on neuroendocrine responses to exhaustive treadmill exercise

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;59(6):405-10. doi: 10.1007/BF02388620.


Neuroendocrine and sympathoadrenal responses to exhaustive graded treadmill exercise were examined in 17 male subjects of varying degrees of fitness. The mean duration of exercise to exhaustion was 15.2 +/- 0.7 (+/- SE) min. Exercise duration was inversely correlated with baseline heart rate (P less than 0.05). Compared to standing baseline values, mean plasma norepinephrine and epinephrine levels increased 339% and 301%, respectively, in an integrated 2-min blood sample collected immediately after completion of exercise. Mean adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), beta-endorphin (beta-EP), beta-lipotropin (beta-LPH), and prolactin levels increased 282%, 720%, 372%, and 211%, respectively, in an integrated 4-min blood sample beginning 2 min after completion of exercise. Cortisol levels increased 183% in the sample collected 17-21 min after exercise. The magnitude of these neuroendocrine responses to exercise was similar among individuals at the same relative intensity of exhaustive exercise, regardless of the duration of exercise. The exercise-induced increases of the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides, ACTH, beta-EP, and beta-LPH, were highly correlated with each other (P values less than 0.001), and were correlated with prolactin increases, (P values less than 0.05). During a 20-min recovery period after exercise, changes in heart rate, ACTH, and beta-LPH levels were correlated with duration of exercise, (P less than 0.01, P less than 0.03, and P less than 0.03, respectively).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adult
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiology*
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • beta-Endorphin / blood
  • beta-Lipotropin / blood


  • beta-Endorphin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • beta-Lipotropin
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine