European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 102, Issue 3, pp 353–360 | Cite as

Time-frequency analysis of heart rate variability during immediate recovery from low and high intensity exercise

  • Kaisu MartinmäkiEmail author
  • Heikki Rusko
Original Article


Previous studies have neglected the first recovery minutes after exercise when studying post-exercise heart rate variability (HRV). The present aim was to evaluate autonomic HR control immediately after exercise using Short-time Fourier transform (STFT) and to compare the effects of low [LI, 29(6)% of maximal power] and high [HI, 61(6)% of maximal power] intensity bicycle exercise on the HRV recovery dynamics. Minute-by-minute values for low (LFPln, 0.04–0.15 Hz) and high (HFPln, 0.15–1.0 Hz) frequency power were computed from R-R interval data recorded from 26 healthy subjects during 10 min recovery period after LI and HI. The HRV at the end of exercise and recovery was assessed with Fast Fourier transform as well. The results showed that LFPln and HFPln during the recovery period were affected by exercise intensity, recovery time and their interaction (P < 0.001). HFPln increased during the first recovery minute after LI and through the second recovery minute after HI (P < 0.001). HFPln was higher for LI than HI at the end of the recovery period [6.35 (1.11) vs. 5.12 (1.01) ln (ms2), P < 0.001]. LFPln showed parallel results with HFPln during the recovery period. In conclusion, the present results obtained by the STFT method, suggested that fast vagal reactivation occurs after the end of exercise and restoration of autonomic HR control is slower after exercise with greater metabolic demand.


Autonomic nervous system Short-time Fourier transform Heart rate variability 



This study was funded by grants from the Ministry of Education, Finland, and from TEKES-National Technology Agency of Finland. The authors thank Ph.D. Sami Saalasti for his help in performing the heart rate variability analyses. This study was partly funded by a grant from Sunto Ltd, Finland and Firstbeat Technologies Ltd, Finland. Heikki Rusko is currently stockowner of Firstbeat Technologies Ltd, Finland.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KIHU, Research Institute for Olympic SportsJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Department of Biology of Physical ActivityUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  3. 3.JyväskyläFinland

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