Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 75–103 | Cite as

Does resistance training modulate cardiac autonomic control? A systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Pooja Bhati
  • Jamal Ali Moiz
  • Geetha R. Menon
  • M. Ejaz HussainEmail author



To systematically evaluate the literature on the effects of resistance training (RT) on cardiac autonomic control in healthy and diseased individuals.


Electronic databases Pubmed, PEDro, and Scopus were systematically searched from their inception up to June 2018. Randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental trials, and cross-over controlled trials investigating the effect of RT (of at least 4 weeks duration) on cardiac autonomic control assessed either by linear or non-linear measures of heart rate variability (HRV), baroreflex sensitivity, or post-exercise heart rate recovery were included. Of the studies retrieved, 28 were included in the systematic review. Meta-analysis was performed on 21 studies of the total 28 studies.


Quality and characteristic assessment revealed fair quality evidence. The majority of literature on healthy humans suggested no change in cardiac autonomic control following RT. Standardized mean differences (SMD) showed a significant effect of RT on root mean square of successive differences between adjacent inter-beat (R-R) intervals (RMSSD) [SMD 0.96, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.20–1.73; p = 0.01], ratio of low- to high-frequency power of HRV (LF/HF ratio; SMD −0.72, 95% CI −1.03 to −0.42; p < 0.00001), standard deviation of the instantaneous beat-to-beat variability (SD1; SMD 1.78, 95% CI 1.07–2.49, p < 0.00001), and sample entropy (SMD 1.17, 95% CI 0.36–1.97, p = 0.005) in diseased individuals.


This rigorous systematic analysis revealed that RT has no or minimal effects on cardiac autonomic control of healthy individuals, but RT leads to improvement in cardiac autonomic control of diseased individuals.


Heart rate variability Exercise Autonomic control of heart Strength training 



The authors would like to sincerely thank all the authors of the studies included in this review for their help in providing information regarding their studies.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10286_2018_558_MOESM1_ESM.doc (63 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 63 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia (A Central University)New DelhiIndia
  2. 2.National Institute of Medical Statistics, Indian Council of Medical ResearchNew DelhiIndia

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