Mood state and salivary cortisol levels following overtraining in female swimmers

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1989;14(4):303-10. doi: 10.1016/0306-4530(89)90032-2.


Mood, as measured by the Profile of Mood States questionnaire, and resting salivary cortisol levels were examined in 14 female college swimmers during progressive increases and decreases in training volume, and were compared to the same measures in eight active college women who served as controls. Training volume increased from 2,000 yards/day in September (baseline) to a peak of 12,000 yards/day in January (overtraining), followed by a reduction in training (taper) to 4,500 yards/day by February. The swimmers experienced significant (p less than 0.01) alterations in tension, depression, anger, vigor, fatigue and global mood across the training season compared to the controls. Salivary cortisol was significantly (p less than 0.01) greater in the swimmers compared to the controls during baseline and overtraining, but was not different between the groups following the taper. Salivary cortisol was significantly correlated with depressed mood during overtraining (r = .50; p less than 0.05) but not at baseline or taper. Global mood, depression, and salivary cortisol were significantly (p less than 0.05) higher during the overtraining phase in those swimmers classified as stale, compared to those swimmers who did not exhibit large performance decrements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Saliva / analysis*
  • Swimming*


  • Hydrocortisone