Leukocytes and lactate responses to cycling and running at the same target heart rate

Einat Kodesh, Pearl Law, Fadia Haddad, Annamarie Stehli, Bareket Falk, Shlomit Radom-Aizik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heart Rate (HR) is widely used for erobic exercise intensity prescriptions and/or studies of exercise training. It is often assumed that exercising at a given HR results in similar physiological response, regardless of exercise modality. This study aimed to gauge cellular immune mobilization to submaximal exercise at a given target HR on a cycle ergometer (CE) and treadmill (TM). Thirteen healthy male adults (23.2 ± 3.5 y.o) completed 4 laboratory visits. Participants performed two graded exercise tests to exhaustion on CE and TM and two 30-min constant exercise challenges at 70% HR reserve on CE or TM in random order. Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) was recorded every 5 min, and blood was drawn before and after exercise to measure leukocytes subpopulation levels, lactate, and IL-6. HR was successfully “clamped” during the exercise in CE and TM (CE 156.7 ± 1.1; TM 159.3 ± 1.6 bpm). Cycling was perceived as more strenuous than running and was accompanied by a greater increase in lactate post-exercise (p < 0.0001; 6.2 ± 0.3 vs. 2.9 ± 0.3 mmol/L). IL-6 and leukocytes subpopulations were significantly elevated post-exercise (p < 0.003) with no difference between exercise modalities (monocytes; CE 57.6% TM 61.2%, granulocytes; CE 41.37%, TM 50.1%, lymphocytes; CE 91.03%, TM 78.8%). The findings revealed that HR is not sufficient in and of itself to fully assess the metabolic stress associated with a given exercise modality. However, despite different metabolic and subjective stress, the IL-6 and leukocyte counts relative changes were similar in the two modalities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. European Journal of Sport Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH on behalf of European College of Sport Science.


  • cycle ergometer
  • exercise
  • exercise prescription
  • modalities
  • submaximal exercise
  • treadmill
  • white blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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