Strenuous endurance training in humans reduces oxidative stress following exhausting exercise


The aim of this study was to evaluate whether high-intensity endurance training would alleviate exercise-induced oxidative stress. Nine untrained male subjects (aged 19–21 years) participated in a 12-week training programme, and performed an acute period of exhausting exercise on a cycle ergometer before and after training. The training programme consisted of running at 80% maximal exercise heart rate for 60 min · day−1, 5 days · week−1 for 12 weeks. Blood samples were collected at rest and immediately after exhausting exercise for measurements of indices of oxidative stress, and antioxidant enzyme activities [superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX), and catalase (CAT)] in the erythrocytes. Maximal oxygen uptake (O2max) increased significantly (P < 0.001) after training, indicating an improvement in aerobic capacity. A period of exhausting exercise caused an increase (P < 0.01) in the ability to produce neutrophil superoxide anion (O2 •−) both before and after endurance training, but the magnitude of the increase was smaller after training (P < 0.05). There was a significant increase in lipid peroxidation in the erythrocyte membrane, but not in oxidative protein, after exhausting exercise, however training attenuated this effect. At rest, SOD and GPX activities were increased after training. However, there was no evidence that exhausting exercise enhanced the levels of any antioxidant enzyme activity. The CAT activity was unchanged either by training or by exhausting exercise. These results indicate that high-intensity endurance training can elevate antioxidant enzyme activities in erythrocytes, and decrease neutrophil O2 •− production in response to exhausting exercise. Furthermore, this up-regulation in antioxidant defences was accompanied by a reduction in exercise-induced lipid peroxidation in erythrocyte membrane.

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Accepted: 26 September 2000

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Miyazaki, H., Oh-ishi, S., Ookawara, T. et al. Strenuous endurance training in humans reduces oxidative stress following exhausting exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 84, 1–6 (2001).

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  • Key words Superoxide anion
  • Endurance training
  • Oxidative damage
  • Antioxidant enzyme
  • Erythrocyte