Adrenocortical response to competitive athletics in students from a Nigerian Tertiary Institution
Exercise is a voluntary stressor. It activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) as well as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which results in an increase of cortisol secretion. Very little is known however about adrenocortical response at basal state, just before the onset of exercise (pre-exercise) and immediately after exercise (post-exercise) with relationship to gender especially in this environment. This study is therefore aimed at investigating the cortisol response during competitive athletics in male and female athletes during the basal state, just before the exercise commences, and after the exercise. Twenty male and female athletes (22.13 ± 3.37 years) participated in this study. They were divided into two groups based on gender. Each Group consisted of 10 athletes who participated in a 30-minute competitive sprint round the track. Blood samples were taken at basal states, pre-exercise and post-exercise states for the analysis of cortisol using an ELISA cortisol kit. From the results, the pre-exercise and post exercise cortisol levels were significantly higher than at the basal state in both male and female athletes. Also, there was no significant difference (p>0.05) in the cortisol level during basal and pre-exercise states between the male and female athletes. The female athletes had a significant (p<0.05) higher cortisol level in the post-exercise state compared to male athletes. conclusively, exercise increases cortisol levels during the anticipation state of exercise and after strenuous exercise in male and female athletes and the female athletes’ hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis maybe more responsive in the secretion of cortisol during strenuous exercise hence the greater increase seen.
Keywords: Adrenocortical response, Athletes, Competitive athletics, Nigerians