How much time is required between exercise sessions to prevent the cortisol effect?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM

To explain this more clearly, I know that given a certain intensity level and duration, exercise will cause a cortisol spike which is undesirable. For example, one commonly hears that a weight routine should not last more than 45 minutes if one wants to avoid a rise in cortisol. Some also say that you shouldn't walk or run for longer than 45 minutes. I like to weight train and walk/run. Can I do one, wait some period of time to avoid the continuous exercise thing, and then do the other? How long would the period of time be roughly?

My ideal is doing a 2 mile run to warm up for weights, weight-training and then doing yoga or taking a walk to loosen up afterwards, but that would take 2+ hours

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1 Answers



on March 11, 2013
at 05:15 PM

First, the cortisol reaction to exercise is a GOOD thing.

Second, chronic over-training can increase cortisol reaction to a point of negative returns. This does not happen in a single bout of exercise, rather as a result of several weeks or months of over-training.

Third, there are a number of confounding variables, including: diet, time of day (circadian rhythm has an effect), quality of sleep, exercise familiarity, injury, and body leanness.

So to answer your question.

Most of the research I have seen show that cortisol reaction to exercise (for healthy people who are not over-training) will peak around 30-60 minutes post exercise and will return to baseline levels around 2-3 hours post exercise.

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