Medicina (Kaunas) 2006; 42 (10): 788-797

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Exercise as a stressor to the human neuroendocrine system

Anthony C. Hackney

Endocrine Section, Applied Physiology Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health and Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Key words: hormones; physical activity; stress.

Summary. This article is a brief review on the effects of exercise stress upon the major hormonal components that make up the human neuroendocrine system. The review is organized into four major topics, which are presented and dealt with in the form of questions. These questions are: 1) Is exercise a stressor to the neuroendocrine system? 2) Why would exercise be a stressor to the neuroendocrine system? 3) What are the effects of exercise as a stressor upon the neuroendocrine system? 4) Is exercise always a stressor to the neuroendocrine system? These questions are addressed and answered in the article in an attempt to provide fundamental background knowledge on neuroendocrine response to exercise.

Correspondence to Professor Dr. A. C. Hackney, Applied Physiology Laboratory, University of North Carolina, CB # 8700 Fetzer Building, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8700, USA. E-mail:

Received 22 November 2005, accepted 17 August 2006