Endocrine and Metabolic Responses to Exercise



The successful completion of any human physical movement requires the transformation of chemical energy into mechanical energy in skeletal muscles at rates appropriate to their needs. The source of this chemical energy is the hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). However, the amount of ATP stored in skeletal muscle is limited and would only last for a few seconds of contraction. Therefore, the ATP must be regenerated continuously at the same rate as it is broken down if the work rate is to be maintained for a prolonged period of time. Generating this continuous supply of energy places a great demand on the capacity of the human body to mobilize and utilize the energy substrates required for muscle contraction and to maintain blood glucose homeostasis in the face of substantial increases in both muscle glucose utilization and hepatic glucose production during exercise. In fact, blood glucose concentrations are normally maintained within a narrow physiological range during exercise as the central nervous system (CNS) relies heavily upon continuous blood glucose supply to meet its energy requirements. In order to achieve this, a decrement in blood glucose concentration during exercise is counteracted by a complex and well-coordinated neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous system response. This counterregulatory response aims to prevent and, when necessary, correct any substantial decreases in blood glucose concentration and thus the development of hypoglycemia. This chapter will describe the main metabolic and neuroendocrine responses to exercise of varying intensity and focus on factors affecting blood glucose utilization in humans. It will also examine gender differences in the endocrine response and substrate utilization during exercise and examine how these responses might be altered in exercising children and adolescents. Finally, this chapter will describe the effects of glucose ingestion before and during exercise on counterregulatory responses, substrate utilization, and exercise performance.


Blood Glucose Concentration Muscle Glycogen Prolonged Exercise Hepatic Glucose Production Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s Medical CentreUniversity of Nottingham Medical SchoolNottinghamUK

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