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What do you know about Cortisol????

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What do you know about Cortisol????

Post by Garythenuke on Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:12 pm

One of my recent obsessions is balancing exercise, diet, everything else, in such a fashion to maximize my day to day fitness. Day to day fitness to me, means doing what I want to do, when I want to do it, and feeling good while doing it. If that involves hiking Cloud's Rest in Yosemite, riding my single speed mountain bike, climbing a rock, or double digging a vegetable bed in the back yard, I want to be able to do it. Also, I'm only 44. I want to have at least another 44 years of productive and active days (if it is at all within my power to control it).

For ages I have been confused by the conflicting reports regarding endurance work versus anaerobic (X-Fit style) work. I haven't heard anyone have disagreement with flexibility.

So now my reading has led me to a number of studies regarding the stress hormone Cortisol and how different exercise methods effect it. Here are a number of links I found. I am drawing the conclusion that an afternoon workout of something less than 2 hours (thank goodness) but at a surprisingly low intensity is best for overall health and longevity. Here are the links. Let me know what you think.


The problem with ANY studies is they frequently get contradicted.

Ready to drink from the fire hose?

First, a primer on cortisol-

http://www.trifuel.com/training/health-nutrition/what-is-cortisol


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8550256

"The strenuous exercise induced profound effect on NK cells as evidenced by a 40% depression of the NK cell count for as long as 7 days after the cessation of exercise. Our results provide direct kinetic evidence demonstrating that exhaustive exertion alters both lymphocyte distribution pattern and effector function, suggestive of possible exercise-induced immune compromise, particularly in the post-exercise recovery period."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9129261

"Moderate" exercise (duration < 2h at about 85% of the IAT corresponding to a lactate steady state at about 2 mmol.l-1, < 30 min at the IAT corresponding to a lactate steady state of 4 mmol.l-1) elicits lower changes in cell concentrations and hormonal responses than strenuous exercise [exhaustive exercise at 100% IAT or above; (exhaustive) long-term (> 2-3h) endurance exercise].

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7871295

"Moderate, appropriately graded training reduces the adverse reactions initially associated with a given bout of exhausting exercise, and cross-sectional comparisons show an increased expression of beta IL-2 receptors on the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of trained individuals. However, excessive training, nutrient deficiency and/or muscle damage has adverse consequences for both the production of interleukins and the response of the immune system to these cytokines."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20839496

"This is the first study to show changes in immunological variables up to 8 hours post-exercise, including significant NK cell suppression, NK cell phenotype changes, a significant increase in total lymphocyte counts, and a significant increase in eosinophil cell counts all at 8 hours post-exercise. Suppression of total lymphocyte counts, NK cell counts and neutrophil phagocytic function following exercise may be important in the increased rate of URI in response to regular intense endurance training."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11397904

"Both baseline (before exercise) and peak cortisol concentrations were significantly higher at 0700 h than at 1900 or 2400 h (P < 0.01). We conclude that time of day does not alter the GH response to exercise; however, the exercise-induced cortisol response is modulated by time of day."

http://www.bmj.sk/2011/11204-13.pdf

This one isn't all that helpful, other than to show the difference in response, obese to lean, morning or afternoon work out. Afternoon is better, or is it? Read both the abstract and the last paragraph.

http://jap.physiology.org/content/55/5/1441.short

"We conclude that exercise-induced increases in plasma ACTH and their correlation with circulating cortisol depend on the intensity of isotonic exercise."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18787373

"Collectively, the cortisol findings support the view that moderate to high intensity exercise provokes increases in circulating cortisol levels. These increases seem due to a combination of hemoconcentration and HPA axis stimulus (ACTH). In contrast, low intensity exercise (40%) does not result in significant increases in cortisol levels, but, once corrections for plasma volume reduction occurred and circadian factors were examined, low intensity exercise actually resulted in a reduction in circulating cortisol levels."

I'll look forward to hearing what everyone has to say bout this. I am very curious. If you see something in the reports that I didn't, bring it up.
Thanks in advance.
GTN

Garythenuke
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Re: What do you know about Cortisol????

Post by Dave on Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:27 pm

What I understand:

Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory. If you are doing the kind of exercise that will produce inflammation (i.e. high rep bodybuilding), then you will stimulate cortisol after a period of time. But the period of time and level of stimulation is entirely subjective. No two trainees are the same - some are adapted to high volume. Look at people like Reg Park and just try and tell me he was "counting his cortisol".

Next, low rep, high load training, even with high volume and high frequency, just does not produce the inflammation of high rep BB style training, because each effort, max though it is, is designed to stimulate the CNS more than the muscles. When did you ever hear a power lifter or Olympic lifter say "you gotta feel the BURN" to increase your squat, deadlift, clean or snatch?

I offer you this page by Olympic lifting coach John Broz to put everything in perspective: http://www.averagebroz.com/ABG/Q_%26_A/Archive.html

Read the articles about working up to max, training tired, adaptation and especially CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM. That last one is the pot of gold you are looking for.

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Re: What do you know about Cortisol????

Post by Garythenuke on Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:37 pm

I read through the blog Dave. While John does mention Cortisol and the body's adaptation, I was looking for a little more regarding long term benefits of different exercise types. He talks about the fact that cortisol is released during heavy lifting and there is some sort of brain chemistry change to deal with it. He mentions that the Bulgarians have larger portions of their brains to, ostensibly, deal with cortisol.

I'm still looking for a concise rundown of the types of training and how they relate to long term quality of life. I am pretty sure that HEAVY lifting is not conducive to a long, quality life. The knees, hips, back, shoulders, simply run out of steam after a certain number of tons of weight lifted.

One of my co-workers is a former Polish national Olympic lifter (he was on the 72' team when he defected).

Now he still does some weight work, but mostly he runs and cycles. He's still built like a brick out house, but he does very little heavy lifting now.

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Re: What do you know about Cortisol????

Post by Dave on Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:55 pm

Broz states that cortisol is not stimulated by heavy weights, but by high rep lifting. He said it has nothing to do with total volume, but only with continuous reps in a set. The Bulgarian style lifting being referred to is not just heavy weight, but heavy weight 3 times a day, 6 days a week, so it doesn't really factor in for the likes of you or me (people with lives and jobs outside the gym).

If cortisol really is your concern, then I would say (since Broz and his doctor friend both say so) feel free to lift as heavy as you want, so long as you keep the reps low, like 1-6.

I think there's no reason to believe heavy lifting will damage the body, in either the short or the long term, so long as it's done responsibly with due care given to form, nutrition, rest and recovery. Heavy lifting with bad form certainly can be bad for long term health, but there are plenty of remarkable examples of elite level lifters going super heavy into old age. Tom Platz, for example, was doing sets of 50 squats with 315 will into his 70s.

I'm still looking for a concise rundown of the types of training and how they relate to long term quality of life.

Well those debates will never end. Studies are invariably contradicted, broscience rules the fitness world as an in-the-squat-rack-curling-grizzled-tyrant. All anyone can do is what makes them feel best. I think if you stick to that metric, you'll do fine.

One of my co-workers is a former Polish national Olympic lifter (he was on the 72' team when he defected).

Now he still does some weight work, but mostly he runs and cycles. He's still built like a brick out house, but he does very little heavy lifting now.

Is it possible he just no longer has interest in Olympic lifting any more, or has he said that Olympic lifting has hurt him? I think Oly lifting is great fun, by the way! It's one of the training methods I would recommend for a long healthy life (because it is built around the squat and deadlift, two staples).
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Re: What do you know about Cortisol????

Post by ccheatum on Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:27 pm

All anyone can do is what makes them feel best. I think if you stick to that metric, you'll do fine.

I am not an expert, but I really think that Dave is onto something here. Somebody around here used to have a signature quote that went something like this, "The best workout program is the one you will stick with." There is a lot of truth to that. People often spend a lot of time worrying about the "best" program, but the best program in the world is no good unless it is something you can stick with and do consistently.

There is more to it than just consistency though. There is a lot of evidence showing that peoples emotional and mental health is at least as important to their longevity as their physical health (some studies suggest that is even more important). So, really the best workout program is something you enjoy doing. Even if you can make yourself gut it out through a workout every day, if you hate it, then it is not worth doing. My advice, is to find some things you really enjoy and just do it. If you get tired of that, then try something new. Mix it up from time to tim just because. If you come across something you don't enjoy, as long as you have really given it a chance, then move on and don't come back to it. If you find something you really like, then do a lot of it. Given the world we live in, working out should be something that we enjoy! It should challenge us in ways that nothing else can, and it should let us build confidence and grow capabilities so that we can explore what we are capable of doing. Ultimately, working out should be fun! If you do something you really enjoy doing and you have fun working out, then you will do it often and improve both your physical and mental/emotional health and that is probably the best way to increase your longevity.

No expert opinions here, just my 2ยข!
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Re: What do you know about Cortisol????

Post by Dave on Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:27 am

CC that was not merely two cents, but 2 shiny metal coins of purest copper with a high numismatic value, not the copper plated steel counterfeits of our present day. :geek:
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