Athletic performance in endurance exercise is determined by an interplay among many physiological factors. Body fluid regulation, influenced by both hormonal and osmotic stimuli, is particularly important for maximising performance in endurance sports, as dehydration markedly decreases endurance. Oestrogen has a broad range of effects on the regulation of body fluid balance, as well as on aerobic capacity, metabolism, and other factors that impact endurance exercise performance, yet the role of oestrogen in endurance exercise performance has not been thoroughly examined. This review discusses the effects of oestrogen on compensatory hormonal and behavioural responses to dehydration, such as renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system activation and thirst, that restore body fluid balance and thereby affect exercise performance. Oestrogen-mediated effects and their potential consequences for endurance performance are also evaluated in the context of thermoregulation and aerobic capacity, as well as substrate utilisation during exercise. In addressing the role of oestrogen in endurance exercise, this review will examine human and animal models of endurance exercise and discuss similarities, differences, and limitations. Our aim is to integrate research from neuroscience, physiology, and exercise science to advance understanding of how oestrogen may impact exercise. Such understanding will have particularly important implications for female endurance athletes experiencing the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the reproductive cycle.
- Aerobic capacity
- Body fluid regulation