To study the role of physical fitness and hyperthermia in inducing growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) responses to exercise in physically fit and in non-trained healthy subjects.
Ten wrestlers preparing for international competition (mean age 19), and nine untrained healthy males (mean age 21), volunteered in the study. They were exposed twice to the exercise consisting of 27 min swimming, freestyle, in water of 29 or 36 degrees C, with last 3 min increased to maximal effort. Measurement of blood pressure, heart rate, sublingual temperature and sampling of blood was performed before exercise, immediately after and after a 30-min period of rest.
Body temperature, heart rate, systolic blood pressure and plasma growth hormone (GH) were significantly elevated in both groups after swimming in water of either temperature (P < 0.01). The difference between GH responses to swimming in water of 29 degrees C vs 36 degrees C was significant only in non-trained subjects and was associated with the changes of body temperature. A rise in PRL concentration was found only in exercise in warmer water (P < 0.01). There were no statistical differences between athletes and controls in any response to swimming in water of the same temperature.
The augmented release of GH and PRL was the result of direct stimulation by increased body temperature.