International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, 2:13

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


  • Frank M. Perna
    • Department of Psychology, Behavioral Medicine Research Training CenterUniversity of Miami
  • Sharon L. McDowell
    • United States Olympic Training Center

DOI: 10.1207/s15327558ijbm0201_2

Cite this article as:
Perna, F.M. & McDowell, S.L. Int. J. Behav. Med. (1995) 2: 13. doi:10.1207/s15327558ijbm0201_2


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 stressCortisolelite athletesgraded exercise testsymptomsrecovery

Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 1995