Bianca Alvarenga Rambo Galletti1, Morgan Delp1, Grant Chesbro1, Brian Pribble1, Ryan Miller2, Christopher Black1 and Rebecca Larson1

1University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

2Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Intro: Regular hormonal fluctuations in women can potentially influence subjective parameters such as discomfort ratings and sensitivity to exercise. Purpose: To evaluate subjective parameters at the end of a maximal aerobic exercise testing across three different menstrual cycle phases: early follicular (day 0-3 EF]), ovulation (within 24h from peak basal body temperature [O]), and mid-luteal (7 days following ovulation [L]). Methods: Three maximal graded exercise tests (GXT) on cycle ergometer were administered to 12 females and 9 (control) males (mean age 21.4 ± 1.3 yr-old) at three defined phases of the menstrual cycle. All females were required to have a trackable eumenorrheic menstrual cycle and not take any hormonal oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, implants, injections, or any other hormonal birth control method. Males completed 3 GXTs at intervals corresponding to menstrual cycle phases. Overall ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) using the modified Borg scale were recorded at the end of each 60-second exercise stage till exhaustion. In addition, the Perceived Recovery Status (PRS) scale was recorded by each individual 24 hours after each GXT. Results: Male subjects showed no significant differences in RPE or PRS across visits, but females reported significantly higher RPE and significantly lower PRS during EF visit (RPE 8.92 ± 0.79 and PRS 6.83 ± 0.94), when compared to the O (RPE 7.67 ± 1.23 and PRS 8.83 ± 1.12) and L visits (RPE 7.75 ± 1.06 and PRS 8.67 ± 0.65). Discussion/Conclusion: Findings from this study suggests that women perceive higher levels of exertion at the end of a GXT (maximal exercise) and feel less recovered 24h later during EF. Early follicular phase occurs when the levels of progesterone and estradiol are low, which can affect inhibitory mechanisms of pain, increase pain sensitivity, and increase kinesthetic awareness of discomforts. Therefore, controlling for the menstrual cycle phase can potentially help decrease a female's discomfort during exercise and improve performance.

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