Sports Medicine

, Volume 35, Issue 12, pp 1045–1062 | Cite as

Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress

Myths, Realities and Physiological Relevance
  • Niels B. J. Vollaard
  • Jerry P. Shearman
  • Chris E. Cooper
Review Article


Although assays for the most popular markers of exercise-induced oxidative stress may experience methodological flaws, there is sufficient credible evidence to suggest that exercise is accompanied by an increased generation of free radicals, resulting in a measurable degree of oxidative modifications to various molecules. However, the mechanisms responsible are unclear. A common assumption that increased mitochondrial oxygen consumption leads per se to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is not supported by in vitro and in vivo data. The specific contributions of other systems (xanthine oxidase, inflammation, haem protein auto-oxidation) are poorly characterised. It has been demonstrated that ROS have the capacity to contribute to the development of muscle fatigue in situ, but there is still a lack of convincing direct evidence that ROS impair exercise performance in vivo in humans. It remains unclear whether exercise-induced oxidative modifications have little significance, induce harmful oxidative damage, or are an integral part of redox regulation. It is clear that ROS play important roles in numerous physiological processes at rest; however, the detailed physiological functions of ROS in exercise remain to be elucidated.


Reactive Oxygen Species Reactive Oxygen Species Production Free Radical Production Conjugate Diene TBARS Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Niels B.J. Vollaard is grateful for a studentship provided by the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Essex, UK. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels B. J. Vollaard
    • 1
  • Jerry P. Shearman
    • 2
  • Chris E. Cooper
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Life SciencesHeriot-Watt UniversityRiccarton, EdinburghUK
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of EssexEssexUK

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