The effect of exercise mode and intensity of sub-maximal physical activities on salivary testosterone to cortisol ratio and α-amylase in young active males

Int J Exerc Sci. 2011 Oct 15;4(4):283-293. eCollection 2011.


We examined the effect of exercise intensity and mode on the acute responses of free testosterone to cortisol ratio and salivary α-amylase. We also evaluated the relationship between cortisol and salivary α-amylase. Ten healthy young active males participated voluntarily in this study in six single sessions. They exercised on a cycle ergo meter, treadmill, and elliptical instrument at intensities of 70% and 85% maximum heart rate for 25 minutes. Saliva samples were collected 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after each exercise session. No significant changes were observed for cortisol. Free testosterone to cortisol ratio increased during each exercise session (F5, 45=3.15, P=0.02). However, these changes are only significant after exercise on the treadmill at 70% maximum heart rate (t=2.94, P=0.02) and 85% maximum heart rate (t=0.53, P=0.03). Salivary α-amylase significantly varied among exercise sessions (F5, 45=3.97, P=0.005), and a significant decline was observed after exercise on the elliptical instrument (t=2.38, P=0.04) and treadmill (t=3.55, P=0.006) at 85% maximum heart rate. We found that the free testosterone to cortisol ratio is dependent on the exercise mode, while the salivary α-amylase response is dependent on the intensity of exercise. The increase of free testosterone to cortisol ratio in this study may indicate lower physiological stress in response to performing these exercises. Applying muscular strength with moderate intensity weight-bearing exercises possibly activates the anabolic pathways. Although the cortisol and salivary α-amylase responses were opposite in the majority of the exercise sessions, no significant inverse relationship was observed.

Keywords: Physiological stress; adrenocortical; cycle ergometer; elliptical; sympathetic; treadmill.