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Caution re take home messages
  1. N Webborn
  1. Medical Advisor, National Sports Medicine Institute of the United Kingdom, 32 Devonshire Street, London W1G 6PX, UK; nickwebborn{at}sportswise.org.uk; www.nsmi.org.uk

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    It is unfortunate that the take home message of an article appears to be all that the media seem prepared to read and then misinterpret. The recent article “Circadian effects on the acute responses of salivary cortisol and IgA in well trained swimmers”1 became national news on TV, radio, websites, and the press with the message that exercise in the morning is bad for you. While I have been striving to promote the public health message of the benefits of increased physical activity levels in the population, it seems that a study on 14 swimmers who showed no ill health during the study but merely a change in some biochemical markers, can show that “athletes should avoid early morning training”. Perhaps the changes in salivary secretory rates of IgA or cortisol were due to the fact that being asleep for eight hours may change hydration status. I know I’ve woken dry mouthed once or twice in my life! Perhaps that is too simple a concept, but we need to make sure that small changes in biochemical markers in a very small group of swimmers who did not become unwell does not lead to messages that athletes in general should avoid early morning training. People need only the smallest reason not to exercise, and, in terms of public health, the downside of too much activity (or at the wrong time of day) is far outweighed by the potential health benefits of an active population. I urge caution in future take home messages.

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