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Cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate responses to food intake were independent of physical fitness levels in women

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This research tested the hypothesis that women who had higher levels of physical fitness will have lower hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis (cortisol) and sympatho-adrenal medullary system (blood pressure and heart rate) responses to food intake compared with women who had low levels of physical fitness. Lower fitness (n = 22; maximal oxygen consumption = 27.4 ± 1.0 mLkg−1·min−1) and higher fitness (n = 22; maximal oxygen consumption = 41.9 ± 1.6 mLkg−1·min−1) women (aged 30–50 years; in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle) who participated in levels of physical activity that met (lower fitness = 2.7 ± 0.5 h/week) or considerably exceeded (higher fitness = 7.1 ± 1.4 h/week) physical activity guidelines made their own lunch using standardised ingredients at 1200 h. Concentrations of cortisol were measured in blood samples collected every 15 min from 1145–1400 h. Blood pressures and heart rate were also measured every 15 min between 1145 h and 1400 h. The meal consumed by the participants consisted of 20% protein, 61% carbohydrates, and 19% fat. There was a significant overall response to lunch in all of the parameters measured (time effect for all, p < 0.01). The cortisol response to lunch was not significantly different between the groups (time × treatment, p = 0.882). Overall, both groups showed the same pattern of cortisol secretion (treatment p = 0.839). Systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, or heart rate responses (time × treatment, p = 0.726, 0.898, 0.713, and 0.620, respectively) were also similar between higher and lower fitness women. Results suggest that the physiological response to food intake in women is quite resistant to modification by elevated physical fitness levels.
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Keywords: HPA axis; SAM system; activité physique; apport alimentaire; axe HPA; condition physique; femmes; fitness; food intake; physical activity; système SAM; women

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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