European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 115, Issue 4, pp 763–773 | Cite as

Peripheral heart action (PHA) training as a valid substitute to high intensity interval training to improve resting cardiovascular changes and autonomic adaptation

  • Alessandro PirasEmail author
  • Michela Persiani
  • Nicholas Damiani
  • Monica Perazzolo
  • Milena Raffi
Original Article



The present study evaluated the effects of peripheral heart action training compared with high intensity interval training on changes in autonomic regulation and physical fitness.


Eighteen young adults (9 women, 9 men) (age 24 ± 3 years, BMI of 22.67 kg/m2, V′O2max 32.89 ml/kg/min) were randomly assigned to either a high intensity interval training group (n = 8) or a peripheral heart action training (PHA) group (n = 10). Before and after training, maximal whole-body muscular strength, time series of beat-to-beat intervals for heart rate variability, and baroreflex sensitivity were recorded. Arterial baroreflex sensitivity and heart rate variability were estimated on both time and frequency domains. Physical fitness level was evaluated with maximum oxygen consumption test.


The effects of PHA whole-body resistance training increased muscular strength and maximum oxygen consumption, with an effect on vagal–cardiac control and cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity.


After 30 training sessions performed in 3 months, PHA resistance exercise promoted cardiovascular adaptations, with a decrease in the power spectral component of vascular sympathetic activity and an increase in the vagal modulation. Low-frequency oscillation estimated from systolic blood pressure variability seems to be a suitable index of the sympathetic modulation of vasomotor activity. This investigation also want to emphasize the beneficial effects of this particular resistance exercise training, considering also that the increase in muscular strength is inversely associated with all-cause mortality and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, independent of cardiorespiratory fitness levels.


Heart rate variability Baroreflex sensitivity Resistance exercise PHA peripheral heart action HIIT high intensity interval training 



Analysis of covariance


Artero-venous oxygen difference


Baroreflex sensitivity


Blood pressure


Systolic blood pressure


Diastolic blood pressure




Fast Fourier transformation


High intensity interval training


Heart rate variability


High frequency


Low frequency


The number of interval differences of successive R–R intervals greater than 50 ms




Peripheral heart action


Proportion derived by dividing NN50 by the total number of R–R intervals NN50


Maximum repetition


The percentage of one maximum repetition


The square root of the mean squared differences of successive R–R intervals


Standard deviation of the R–R interval


Maximum oxygen consumption


Conflict of interest

The author(s) declare(s) that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Piras
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michela Persiani
    • 1
  • Nicholas Damiani
    • 1
  • Monica Perazzolo
    • 1
  • Milena Raffi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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