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Objective

Hepcidin may be an important mediator in exercise-induced iron deficiency. Despite the studies investigating acute exercise effects on hepcidin and markers of iron metabolism, we found no studies examining the chronic effects of walking exercises (WE) on hepcidin and markers of iron metabolism in premenopausal women. The chronic effects of two 8-week different-intensity WE on hepcidin, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and markers of iron metabolism in pre-menopausal women were examined.

Methods

Exercise groups (EG) [moderate tempo walking group (MTWG), n = 11; brisk walking group (BWG), n = 11] walked 3 days/week, starting from 30 to 51 min. Control group (CG; n = 8) did not perform any exercises. BWG walked at ∼70%–75%; MTWG at ∼50%–55% of HRRmax. VO2max, hepcidin, IL-6, and iron metabolism markers were determined before and after the intervention.

Results

VO2max increased in both EGs, favoring the BWG. Hepcidin increased in the BWG (p < 0.01) and CG (p < 0.05). IL-6 decreased in the BWG and the MTWG (p < 0.05; p < 0.01). While iron, ferritin, transferrin, and transferrin saturation levels did not change in any group, total iron binding capacity (p < 0.05), red blood cells (p < 0.05), and hematocrit (p < 0.01) increased only in the BWG.

Conclusion

Both WE types may be useful to prevent inflammation. However, brisk walking is advisable due to the positive changes in VO2max and some iron metabolism parameters, which may contribute to prevent iron deficiency. The increase in hepcidin levels remains unclear and necessitates further studies.

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