Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The effect of short and long duration exercise on serum erythropoietin concentrations


The effects of short and long duration exercise on serum erythropoietin concentrations [EPO]s were studied in seven male cross-country skiers of national team standard and eight male marathon runners, respectively. The short duration exercise was performed as 60 min of cycling at an intensity of 80%–95% of maximal heart rate. Arterial blood oxygen saturations monitored by pulse-oximetry remained unchanged throughout exercise. The partial pressure of O2 at which haemoglobin was half-saturated with O2 calculated from forearm venous blood gas tension and blood O2 saturation, and the erythrocyte 2,3-diphosphoglycerate did not change significantly during the exercise. Blood lactate concentrations were increased at the end of exercise [from 1.3 (SEM 0.1) to 3.6 (SEM 0.3) mmol · 1−1]. The [EPO]s determined (by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) pre-exercise, 5 min, 6 h, 19 h, and 30 h after the exercise were unchanged [from 16.1 (SEM 2.6) to 19.1 (SEM 3.2), 17.9 (SEM 3.0), 17.0 (SEM 2.5), and 18.6 (SEM 2.9) U·l−1, respectively]. The [EPO]s were not correlated to the earlier parameters. The long duration exercise consisted of habitual training, a 3 week break from training followed by 2 and 4 weeks of re-training. The [EPO]s, body fat (BF), and serum free-testosterone concentrations determined at the end of each period remained unchanged. The maximal oxygen uptakes were decreased after the break from training and increased during retraining (P=0.04). Body mass (m b) increased after the break in training (P=0.02). The [EPO]s were correlated to BF,r=0.42,P=0.02;m b,r=0.45,P=0.01; and free-testosterone concentrations,r=0.44,P=0.01. Thus, short and long-duration exercise had no direct influence on [EPO]s; but relationships among [EPO]s, free-testosterone concentrations and body composition were noted.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Åstrand PO, Rodahl K (1977) Evaluation of physical work capacity on the basis of tests. In: Textbook of work physiology. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 331–366

  2. Buemi M, Allegra A, Aloisi C, Mannino G, Trusso S, Vitulo F, Privitera M, Morabito N, Frisina N (1992) The circadian rhythm of erythropoietin in subjects with pre-terminal uremia. Clin Nephrol 37:159–160

  3. Berglund BO, Birgegård G, Hemmingson P (1988) Serum erythropoietin in cross country skiers. Med Sci Sports Exerc 20:208–209

  4. Cahan C. Decker MJ, Arnold JL, Washington LH, Veldhuis JD, Goldwasser E, Strohl KP (1992) Diurnal variations in serum erythropoietin levels in healthy subject and sleep apnea patients. J Appl Physiol 72:2112–2117

  5. De Paoli VE, Guglielmini C, Casoni I, Vedovato M, Gilli P, Farinelli A, Salvatorelli G, Conconi F (1988) Serum erythropoietin in cross country skiers. Int J Sports Med 9:99–101

  6. Eckardt KU, Boutellier U, Kurtz A, Schopen M, Koller EA, Bauer C (1989) Rate of erythropoietin formation in response to acute hypobaric hypoxia. J Appl Physiol 66:1785–1788

  7. Eckardt KU, Kurtz A, Bauer C (1990) Triggering of erythropoietin production by hypoxia is inhibited by respiratory and metabolic acidosis. Am J Physiol [Regulatory Integrative Comp Physiol] 27:R678-R683

  8. Gareau R, Caron C, Brisson GR (1991) Exercise duration and serum erythropoietin level. Horm Metab Res 23:355

  9. Heitman BL (1991) Body fat in the adult Danish population aged 35–65 years: an epidemiological study. Int J Obes 15:535–545

  10. Jelkmann W (1986) Renal erythropoietin: properties and production. Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol 104:139–215

  11. Jelkmann W, Seidl J (1987) Dependence of erythropoietin production on blood oxygen affinity and hemoglobin concentration in rats. Biomed Biochem Acta 46:304–308

  12. Jelkmann W, Piccardi K (1991) Determination of erythropoietin in serum. Comparison of a commercial ELISA with conventional biological and radioimmunological methods. Klin Lab 37:229–234

  13. Klausen T, Ghisler U, Mohr T, Fogh-Andersen N (1992) Erythropoietin, 2,3 diphosphoglycerate and plasma volume during moderate altitude training. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2:16–20

  14. Knaupp W, Khilnani S, Sherwood J, Scharf S, Steinberg H (1992) Erythropoietin response to acute normobaric hypoxia in humans. J Appl Physiol 73:837–840

  15. Lykkesfeldt G, Bennett P, Lykkesfeldt AE, Micic S, Møller S, Svenstrup B (1985) Abnormal androgen and oestrogen metabolism in men ithsteroid sulphatase deficiency and recessive X-linked ichthyosis. Clin Endocrinol 23:385–393

  16. Ricci G, Masotti M, De Paoli VE, Vedovato M, Zanotti G (1988) Effects of exercise on haematologic parameters, serum iron, serum ferritin, red cell 2,3 diphosphoglycerate and creatine contents, and serum erythropoietin in long distance runners during basal training. Acta Haematol 80:95–98

  17. Ricci G, Masotti M, De Paoli VE, Vedovato M, Zanotti G (1990) Effects of a mixed physical activity (biathlon) on haematological parameters, red cell 2,3 diphosphoglycerate and creatine, serum erythropoietin, urinary enzymes and microalbumin. Eur J Haematol 45:178–179

  18. Schmidt W, Maassen N, Trost F, Böning B (1988) Training induced effects on blood volume, erythrocyte turnover, and haemoglobin oxygen binding properties. Eur J Appl Physiol 57:490–498

  19. Schmidt W, Eckardt KU, Hilgendorf A, Strauch S, Bauer C (1991) Effect of maximal and submaximal exercise under normoxic and hypoxic conditions on serum erythropoietin level. Int J Sports Med 12:457–461

  20. Schwandt HJ, Heyduck B, Gunga HC, Röcker L (1991) Influence of prolonged physical exercise on the erythropoietin concentration in blood. Eur J Appl Physiol 63:463–466

  21. Siggaard-Andersen O, Siggaard-Andersen M (1990) The oxygen status algorithm: a computer program for calculating and displaying pH and blood gas data. Scand J Clin Lab Invest 50 [Suppl] 203:29–45

  22. Van Beaumont W (1972) Evaluation of hemoconcentration from hematocrit measurements. J Appl Physiol 32:712–713

  23. Vollmer-Larsen B, Vollmer-Larsen A, Graff Larsen O, Breum L, Larsen J, Keller N (1989) Atrial natriuretic factor during exercise in male endurance athletes: effect of training. Clin Physiol 9:449–456

  24. Wide L, Bengtsson C, Birgegård G (1989) Circadian rhythm of erythropoietin in human serum. Br J Haematol 72:85–90

  25. Weight LM, Alexander D, Elliot T, Jacobs P (1992) Erythropoietic adaptions to endurance training. Eur J Appl Physiol 64:444–448

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Tom Klausen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Klausen, T., Breum, L., Fogh-Andersen, N. et al. The effect of short and long duration exercise on serum erythropoietin concentrations. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 67, 213–217 (1993).

Download citation

Key words

  • Erythropoietin
  • Exercise
  • Blood oxygen affinity
  • Body mass
  • Body composition
  • Testosterone
  • Maximal oxygen uptake