Immune changes following 2 h of intensive cycling with or without rest intervals were measured in trained cyclists (n = 12) who functioned as their own controls during two test sessions that were separated by two weeks. Subjects cycled for 2.0 h at approximately 64 % Watts(max) continuously (C) or with 3-min rest intervals (R) interspersed every 10 min (2.6 h total time), with the order of the sessions randomized. Blood samples were collected 30-min pre-exercise, and immediately and 1-h postexercise, and assayed for blood leukocyte subset counts, plasma IL-6, IL-10, IL-1ra, IL-8, PHA-induced lymphocyte proliferation, and natural killer cell activity (NKCA). Significant time effects were measured for all immune measures, but no significant differences in the pattern of change were found between C and R exercise trials. In conclusion, immune changes induced by 2 h of intense and prolonged exercise paralleled those measured when athletes rested 3 min every 10 min of exercise.
Int J Sports Med. 28(7):625-630.