Comparison of the inflammatory and stress response between sprint interval swimming and running

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2018 Apr;28(4):1371-1378. doi: 10.1111/sms.13046. Epub 2018 Jan 24.


The aim of the study was to compare myocellular damage, metabolic stress, and inflammatory responses as well as circulating sodium (Na+ ) and potassium (K+ ) between a single sprint swimming and running training. Eighteen subjects regularly involved in swimming and running training for at least 2 years were recruited. The subjects performed 8 × 30 seconds "all out" exercise on different days either by running or by swimming in a random order. Blood was collected before each training session, after the cessation of exercise (post) and after 2 hours of rest (2 hours). We then analyzed tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 10 (IL-10), interleukin 6 (IL-6), cortisol, creatine kinase MB isoform (CK-MB), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), K+ , and Na+ . Neither TNF-α nor IL-10 differed between swimming and running. Most of the subjects showed a non-statistically significant increase of LDH and CK-MB after swimming. On the other hand, IL-6 (P < .05) and cortisol (P < .05) were significantly lower after 2 hours of swimming than after running. In addition, post-exercise K+ was significantly lower (P < .001) for swimming than for running. Our results provide evidence of similar inflammatory responses between exercise modes but lower metabolic stress in response to swimming than in response to running.

Keywords: cortisol; exercise; interleukin 6; lactate dehydrogenase.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Creatine Kinase, MB Form / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / blood
  • Running / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Young Adult


  • IL10 protein, human
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Creatine Kinase, MB Form
  • Hydrocortisone