European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 104, Issue 6, pp 973–981 | Cite as

Psychological stress during exercise: cardiorespiratory and hormonal responses

  • Heather E. WebbEmail author
  • Michael L. Weldy
  • Emily C. Fabianke-Kadue
  • G. R. Orndorff
  • Gary H. Kamimori
  • Edmund O. Acevedo
Original Article


The purpose of this study was to examine the cardiorespiratory (CR) and stress hormone responses to a combined physical and mental stress. Eight participants (\( V{\text{O}}_{{ 2_{\max } }} \) = 41.24 ± 6.20 ml kg−1 min−1) completed two experimental conditions, a treatment condition including a 37 min ride at 60% of \( V{\text{O}}_{{ 2_{\max } }} \) with participants responding to a computerized mental challenge dual stress condition (DSC) and a control condition of the same duration and intensity without the mental challenge exercise alone condition (EAC). Significant interactions across time were found for CR responses, with heart rate, ventilation, and respiration rate demonstrating higher increases in the DSC. Additionally, norepinephrine was significantly greater in the DSC at the end of the combined challenge. Furthermore, cortisol area-under-the-curve (AUC) was also significantly elevated during the DSC. These results demonstrate that a mental challenge during exercise can exacerbate the stress response, including the release of hormones that have been linked to negative health consequences (cardiovascular, metabolic, autoimmune illnesses).


Exercise/physiology Exercise/psychology Mental processes/physiology Stress, psychological/physiopathology 



Use of trade names does not constitute endorsement of product. The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the opinions of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather E. Webb
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael L. Weldy
    • 2
  • Emily C. Fabianke-Kadue
    • 2
  • G. R. Orndorff
    • 2
  • Gary H. Kamimori
    • 3
  • Edmund O. Acevedo
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation ManagementThe University of MississippiOxfordUSA
  3. 3.Walter Reed Army Institute of ResearchSilver SpringsMDUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health and Human PerformanceVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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