Sports Medicine

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 839–849 | Cite as

Obesity, Growth Hormone and Exercise

  • Gwendolyn A. Thomas
  • William J. Kraemer
  • Brett A. Comstock
  • Courtenay Dunn-Lewis
  • Carl M. Maresh
  • Jeff S. Volek
Review Article

Abstract

Growth hormone (GH) is regulated, suppressed and stimulated by numerous physiological stimuli. However, it is believed that obesity disrupts the physiological and pathological factors that regulate, suppress or stimulate GH release. Pulsatile GH has been potently stimulated in healthy subjects by both aerobic and resistance exercise of the right intensity and duration. GH modulates fuel metabolism, reduces total fat mass and abdominal fat mass, and could be a potent stimulus of lipolysis when administered to obese individuals exogenously. Only pulsatile GH has been shown to augment adipose tissue lipolysis and, therefore, increasing pulsatile GH response may be a therapeutic target. This review discusses the factors that cause secretion of GH, how obesity may alter GH secretion and how both aerobic and resistance exercise stimulates GH, as well as how exercise of a specific intensity may be used as a stimulus for GH release in individuals who are obese. Only five prior studies have investigated exercise as a stimulus of endogenous GH in individuals who are obese. Based on prior literature, resistance exercise may provide a therapeutic target for releasing endogenous GH in individuals who are obese if specific exercise programme variables are utilized. Biological activity of GH indicates that this may be an important precursor to beneficial changes in body fat and lean tissue mass in obese individuals. However, additional research is needed including what molecular GH variants are acutely released and involved at target tissues as a result of different exercise stimuli and what specific exercise programme variables may serve to stimulate GH in individuals who are obese.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gwendolyn A. Thomas
    • 1
    • 2
  • William J. Kraemer
    • 2
  • Brett A. Comstock
    • 2
  • Courtenay Dunn-Lewis
    • 2
  • Carl M. Maresh
    • 2
  • Jeff S. Volek
    • 2
  1. 1.School of NursingYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Human Performance Laboratory, Department of KinesiologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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