Abstract and Keywords
Psychoneuroendocrinology is the clinical study of hormone fluctuations and their relationship to human behavior. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is central to this area of study. Salivary cortisol is considered to be a reliable indicator of HPA function and can be used as a biomarker of physical and mental stress. Several aspects of psychoneuroendocrinology are relevant to physical activity and exercise. First, regular physical activity can both result in physiological adaptations to the HPA axis that might have implications for health and modify HPA and immune responses to mental stress. Second, cortisol appears to be important in preparing for mental and physical demands and may have an impact on sports performance. Overtraining in athletes provides a model for examining neuroendocrine function and chronic stress.
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