International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, 2:13

First online:

Role of psychological stress in cortisol recovery from exhaustive exercise among elite athletes

  • Frank M. PernaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Behavioral Medicine Research Training Center, University of Miami
  • , Sharon L. McDowellAffiliated withUnited States Olympic Training Center

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Life-event stress (LES) was used to classify elite athletes (n = 39) into high-and low-LES groups. A repeated measures analysis of variance revealed higher Cortisol concentration after a graded exercise test among the high-LES group relative to the low-LES group, which was maintained for up to 20 hr. Subsequent prospective analyses further indicated that high-LES athletes were more likely to be symptomatic than low-LES athletes and that elevated Cortisol level was positively correlated with symptomatology. To the extent that Cortisol is a marker of exercise recovery in competitive atbletes, our results suggest that chronic stress prolongs the recovery process, which may potentially widen a window of susceptibility for illness and injury among competitive athletes.

Key words

life-event stress Cortisol elite athletes graded exercise test symptoms recovery