Purpose: To compare the effects of endurance exercise performed in the morning and evening on inflammatory cytokine responses in young men. Methods: Fourteen healthy male participants aged 24.3 ± 0.8 years (mean ± standard error) performed endurance exercise in the morning (0900-1000 h) on one day and then in the evening (1700-1800 h) on another day with an interval of at least 1 week between each trial. In both the morning and evening trials, the participants walked for 60 minutes at approximately 60% of the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) on a treadmill. Blood samples were collected to determine hormones and inflammatory cytokines at pre-exercise, immediately post exercise, and 2 h post exercise. Results: Plasma interleukin (IL)-6 and adrenaline concentrations were significantly higher immediately after exercise in the evening trial than in the morning trial (P < 0.01, both). Serum free fatty acids concentrations were significantly higher in the evening trial than in the morning trial at 2 h after exercise (P < 0.05). Furthermore, a significant correlation was observed between the levels of IL-6 immediately post-exercise and free fatty acids 2 h post-exercise in the evening (r = 0.68, P < 0.01). Conclusions: These findings suggest that the effect of acute endurance exercise in the evening enhances the plasma IL-6 and adrenaline concentrations compared to that in the morning. In addition, IL-6 was involved in increasing free fatty acids, suggesting that the evening is more effective for exercise-induced lipolysis compared with the morning.
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