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Effect of exercise mode on heart rate variability during steady state exercise

Abstract

This study examined the effect of exercise mode on geometrical, and time and frequency domain measures of heart rate variability (HRV) during steady-state, moderate intensity exercise of the same HR. Seventeen healthy, active male participants volunteered for this study and completed a treadmill \( \dot V{\text{O}}_{{\text{2max}}} \) determination. One week later, cardiorespiratory, perceptual and HRV measures were recorded during seated rest (15 min) and consecutive bouts (15 min) of steady-state exercise at 50 and 65% of maximal HR. Exercise was performed using either upper body (arm ergometer), lower body (cycle) or whole body (treadmill) modes. Separated by 1 week and in a random order, participants undertook the same procedures with the remaining exercise modes. Cardiorespiratory, perceptual and HRV responses were determined during rest and steady-state exercise and analysed by two-way (mode vs. stage) repeated measures ANOVA and post hoc pairwise comparisons. Apart from a reduced respiratory rate during lower body exercise, whole and lower body exercise resulted in similar cardiorespiratory, perceptual and HRV responses. Compared to whole or lower body exercise, upper body exercise resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) greater measures of HRV particularly those within the very low (0–0.04 Hz) and low (0.04–0.15 Hz) frequency bands, greater rating of perceived exertion and less oxygen consumption. Upper body, moderate intensity exercise resulted in greater HRV compared to whole or lower body exercise with further studies necessary to elucidate the mechanisms and clinical implications for this greater HRV.

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Correspondence to Anthony S. Leicht.

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Part of this work has previously been presented at the 2004 Sports Medicine Australia National Conference, 6–9th October, Alice Springs, Australia.

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Leicht, A.S., Sinclair, W.H. & Spinks, W.L. Effect of exercise mode on heart rate variability during steady state exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 102, 195–204 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-007-0574-9

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Keywords

  • Cardiac autonomic control
  • Exercise type
  • Parasympathetic nervous system
  • Relative exercise intensity