Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Heart Rate Variability: Effect of Exercise Intensity on Postexercise Response

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Heart Rate Variability: Effect of Exercise Intensity on Postexercise Response

Article excerpt

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the influence of two exercise intensities (moderate and severe) on heart rate variability (HRV) response in 16 runners 1 hr prior to (-1 hr) and at + 1 hr, +24 hr, +48 hr, and + 72 hr following each exercise session. Time domain indexes and a high frequency component showed a significant decrease (p < .001) between -1 hr and +1 hr for severe intensity. The low frequency component in normalized units significantly increased (p < .01) for severe intensity at +1 hr. Only severe exercise elicited a change in HR V outcomes postexercise, resulting in a reduction in the parasympathetic influence on the heart at +1 hr; however, values returned to baseline levels by +24 hr.

Key words, autonomic nervous system, parasympathetic, sympathetic

Heart rate variability (HRV) has been promoted as a useful noninvasive method for evaluating autonomic influence on cardiac rhythm (Task Force of The European Society of Cardiology and The North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology, 1996). It is widely accepted that regular exercise training induces adaptations in HRV (i.e., oscillation in the interval between consecutive heartbeats) outcomes with a shift of autonomic balance toward higher parasympathetic activity, which is consistent with improved cardiac health (Task Force of The European Society of Cardiology, 1996).

While the cardioprotective benefits of exercising at vigorous intensities are well known (Haskell et al., 2007; Swain & Franklin, 2006), less attention has been paid to the HRV response following a single exercise bout that includes high intensity (Gladwell, Sandercock, & Birch, 2010; Seiler, Haugen, & Kuffel, 2007). However, there is a growing body of evidence in this area based on studies of trained athletes (Bernardi, Passino, Robergs, & Appenzeller, 1997; Furlan et al., 1993; Hautala et al., 2001; Seiler et al., 2007), trained students (James, Barnes, Lopes, & Wood, 2002), moderately trained athletes (James, Reynolds, & Maldonado-Martin, 2010; Mourot, Bouhaddi, Tordi, Rouillon, & Regnard, 2004), and detrained (Raczak et al., 2005) and untrained active participants (Gladwell et al., 2010; Heffernan, Kelly, Collier, & Femhall, 2006; Pober, Braun, & Freedson, 2004; Terziotti, Schena, Gulli, & Cevese, 2001) that a single exercise bout may result in increased sympathetic influence 1 hr postexercise (Bernardi et al., 1997; James et al., 2002; Mourot et al., 2004) and that by 24 hr postexercise the sympathetic influence returns to baseline levels (Bernardi et al., 1997; Mourot et al., 2004; Terziotti et al., 2001). Furthermore, HRV values returned more rapidly to baseline in highly trained than in less trained participants after high-intensity exercise (Seiler et al., 2007).

Following an initial suppression of parasympathetic influence at 1 hr postexercise, elevated parasympathetic influence has been observed at 48 hr following prolonged exercise (Hautala et al., 2001). In contrast, one study showed moderate intensity exercise was associated with elevated parasympathetic influence within 1 hr after exercise cessation (Pober et al., 2004). This is an interesting finding, as such changes are known to have a cardioprotective effect (Lown & Verrier, 1976). Although different studies examined HRV responses at different intensities (Gladwell et al., 2010; Parekh & Lee, 2005; Seiler, Haugen, & Kuffel, 2007; Terziotfi et al., 2001), to the best of our knowledge only one directly explored the impact of exercise intensity over 48 hr after exercise cessation (Mourot et al., 2004). In that study, both moderate and high-intensity exercise resulted in reduced parasympathetic influence 1 hr following exercise cessation, and there appeared to be no notable differences between exercise intensity responses up to 48 hr postexercise. However, the study by Mourot et al. (2004) included a potential confounding variable, as participants performed continuous exercise for the moderate-intensity condition and interval exercise for the severe-intensity condition. …

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