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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Jun;86(6):2881-9.

Cortisol and growth hormone responses to exercise at different times of day.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 22908, USA.


Exercise of appropriate intensity is a potent stimulus for GH and cortisol secretion. Circadian and diurnal rhythms may modulate the GH and cortisol responses to exercise, but nutrition, sleep, prior exercise patterns, and body composition are potentially confounding factors. To determine the influence of the time of day on the GH and cortisol response to acute exercise, we studied 10 moderately trained young men (24.1 +/- 1.1 yr old; maximal oxygen consumption, 47.9 +/- 1.4 mL/kg.min; percent body fat, 13.2 +/- 0.6%). After a supervised night of sleep and a standard meal 12 h before exercise, subjects exercised at a constant velocity (to elicit an initial blood lactate concentration of approximately 2.5 mmol/L) on a treadmill for 30 min on 3 separate occasions, starting at 0700, 1900, and 2400 h. Blood samples were obtained at 5-min intervals for 1 h before and 5 h after the start of exercise; subjects were not allowed to sleep during this period. Subjects were also studied on 3 control days under identical conditions without exercise. There were no significant differences with time of day in the mean blood lactate and submaximal oxygen consumption values during exercise. The differences over time in serum GH and cortisol concentrations between the exercise day and the control day were determined with 95% confidence limits for each time of day. Exercise stimulated a significant increase in serum GH concentrations over control day values for approximately 105--145 min (P < 0.05) with no significant difference in the magnitude of this response by time of day. The increase in serum GH concentrations with exercise was followed by a transient suppression of GH release (for approximately 55--90 min; P < 0.05) after exercise at 0700 and 1900 h, but not at 2400 h. Although the duration of the increase in serum cortisol concentrations after exercise was similar (approximately 150--155 min; P < 0.05) at 0700, 1900, and 2400 h, the magnitude of this increase over control day levels was greatest at 2400 h. This difference was significant for approximately 130 min and approximately 40 min compared to exercise at 1900 and 0700 h, respectively (P < 0.05). The cortisol response to exercise at 0700 h was significantly greater than that at 1900 h for about 55 min (P < 0.05). A rebound suppression of cortisol release for about 50 min (P < 0.05) was observed after exercise at 2400 h, but not 0700 or 1900 h. Both baseline (before exercise) and peak cortisol concentrations were significantly higher at 0700 h than at 1900 or 2400 h (P < 0.01). We conclude that time of day does not alter the GH response to exercise; however, the exercise-induced cortisol response is modulated by time of day.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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