Original Article

Exhaustive submaximal endurance and resistance exercises induce temporary immunosuppression via physical and oxidative stress


Chan-Ho Jin, Il-Young Paik, Yi-Sub Kwak, Yong-Seok Jee, Joo-Young Kim

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Regular running and strength training are the best ways to improve aer-obic capacity and develop the size of skeletal muscles. However, un-controlled physical activities can often lead to an undertraining or over-training syndrome. In particular, overtraining causes persistent fatigue and reduces physical performance due to changes in the various phys-iological and immunological factors. In this study, we gave an exhaus-tive submaximal endurance or resistance exercise to participants and investigated the relationship between physical stress (cortisol level in blood), oxidative stress (intracellular ROS accumulation), and adaptive immune response (CD4:CD8 ratio). Ten male volunteers were recruited, and performed a submaximal endurance or resistance exercise with 85% of VO2max or 1-repetition maximum until exhaustion. Blood sam-ples were collected at rest, and at 0 and 30 min after the exercise. Corti-sol levels, oxidative stress, and immune cell phenotypes in peripheral blood were evaluated. Cortisol levels in the sera increased after the ex-haustive endurance and resistance exercises and such increments were maintained through the recovery. Intracellular ROS levels also in-creased after the exhaustive endurance and resistance exercises. The ratio of CD4+ T cells to CD8+ T cells after each type of submaximal ex-ercise decreased compared with that at the resting stage, and returned to the resting level at 30 min after the exercise. In this study, an exhaus-tive endurance or a resistance exercise with submaximal intensity caused excessive physical stress, intracellular oxidative stress, and post-exercise immunosuppression. This result suggests that excessive physical stress induced temporary immune dysfunction via physical and oxidative stress.


  Scheme of study
  Preliminary measurement of baseline characteristics
  Submaximal endurance exercise with 85% of VO2max
  Submaximal resistance exercise with 85% of 1-RM
  Blood sampling
  Blood cortisol levels
  Flow cytometric analysis
  Statistical analysis
  Subjects suitable for high-intensity physical activities
  Exhaustive physical activities with high intensity are induced stress and fatigue.
  Exhaustive physical activities causes a severe oxidative stress
  Physical stress alters T cell phenotypes


  • Chan-Ho Jin Department of Leisure and Gaming, Hanseo University, Seosan, Korea
  • Il-Young Paik Department of Physical Education, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
  • Yi-Sub Kwak Department of Physical Education, Dongeui University, Busan, Korea
  • Yong-Seok Jee Department of Physical Activity Design, Hanseo University, Seosan, Korea
  • Joo-Young Kim School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea


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