Strenuous exercise was reported to involve the alteration in the release of some "stress" hormones such as growth hormone (GH), cortisol, catecholamines and appropriate adjustment of energy metabolism but the relative contribution of these hormones to metabolic response, to cycling exercise performed at different muscle shortening velocities, has not been clarified.
The purpose of this experiment was to assess the effect of applying different pedalling rates during a prolonged incremental cycling exercise test on the changes in the plasma levels of growth hormone, cortisol, insulin, glucagon and leptin in humans.
Fifteen healthy non-smoking men (means +/- SD: age 22.9 +/- 2.4 years; body mass 71.9 +/- 8.2 kg; height 178 +/- 6 cm; with VO2max of 3.896 +/- 0.544 1 x min(-1), assessed in laboratory tests, were subjects in this study. The subjects performed in two different days a prolonged incremental exercise tests at two different pedalling rates, one of them at 60 and another at 120 rev x min(-1). During this tests the power output has increased by 30 W every 6 minutes. The tests were stopped when the subject reached about 70 % of the VO2max.
We have found that choosing slow or fast pedalling rates (60 or 120 rev min(-1)), while generating the same external mechanical power output, had no effect on the pattern of changes in plasma cortisol, insulin, glucagon, glucose and leptin concentrations. But, generation of the same external mechanical power output at 120 rev min(-1) causes more stepper increase (p < 0.01) in the plasma growth hormone concentration [GH]pl and plasma lactate concentrations [La]pl when compared to that observed during cycling at 60 rev x min(-1). We have also found that the onset of a significant increase in [GH]pl during cycling at 60 rev x min(-1) was not accompanied by significant increase in [La]pl. While during cycling at 120 rev x min(-1) the onset of a significant increase in [La]pl occurred without increase in [GH]pl, but with continuation of exercise when plasma [La]pl increased, there was also a parallel rise in plasma [GH]pl, as reported before. This results indicates that the increase in [GH]pl during exercise is not closely related to the increase in [La]pl.