Overtraining and the Central Nervous System

The Missing Link?
  • Romain Meeusen


From a physiological standpoint, exercise can impose a significant amount of stress on an organism. Muscular activity requires coordinated integration of many physiological and biochemical systems. Such integration is possible only if the body’s various tissues and systems can communicate with each other. The nervous system is responsible for most of this communication through central command and peripheral adjustments. Regular exercise or training will result in better performance, however this ‘challenge of homeostasis’ can lead to an disturbed balance between training and recovery. This stress is counteracted by several adaptive and regulation mechanisms. The physiological responses to any disturbance of the body’s equilibrium and its ‘feed-forward’and ‘feed-back’ from and to the brain is primarily the responsibility of the endocrine system . The endocrine and nervous system work in concert to initiate and control movement and all physiological processes it involves. When all facets of the central nervous and neuroendocrine system are performing in harmony, the ability to coordinate and regulate key physiological and metabolic functions, under the perturbations imposed by physical exercise, is quite remarkable. To date, relatively little attention has been placed on the role of the central nervous system in overtraining and fatigue during exercise and training. This chapter will focus on the possible involvement of the central nervous system in the onset of fatigue during exercise and the role of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators in possible mechanisms that underlie overtraining.


Exercise Performance Restraint Stress Central Fatigue Microdialysis Study Large Neutral Amino Acid 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Romain Meeusen
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Physical Education and PhysiotherapyVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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