Ultra-shortened time-domain HRV parameters at rest and following exercise in athletes: an alternative to frequency computation of sympathovagal balance



The primary purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy of the standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals (SDNN) to root mean square of successive normal-to-normal interval differences (RMSSD) ratio from 1-min recordings (SDNN:RMSSD1−min) compared to criterion recordings, as well as its relationship to low-frequency-to-high-frequency ratio (LF:HF) at rest and following maximal exercise in a group of collegiate athletes.


Twenty athletes participated in the study. Heart rate variability (HRV) data were measured for 5 min before and at 5–10 and 25–30 min following a maximal exercise test. From each 5-min segment, the frequency-domain measures of HF, LF, and LF:HF ratio were analyzed. Time-domain measures of SDNN, RMSSD, and SDNN:RMSSD ratio were also analyzed from each 5-min segment, as well as from randomly selected 1-min recordings.


The 1-min values of SDNN, RMSSD, and SDNN:RMSSD provided no significant differences and nearly perfect intra-class correlations (ICCs ranged from 0.97 to 1.00, p < 0.001 for all) to the criterion measures from 5-min recordings. In addition, SDNN, RMSSD, and SDNN:RMSSD from the 1-min segments provided very large to nearly perfect correlations (r values ranged from 0.71 to 0.97, p < 0.001 for all) to LF, HF, and LF:HF, respectively, at each time point.


The findings of the study suggest that ultra-shortened time-domain markers may be useful surrogates of the frequency-domain parameters for tracking changes in sympathovagal activity in athletes.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3



Heart rate variability


Electrocardiogram or electrocardiographic


High frequency


Low frequency


LF-to-HF ratio


Root mean square of successive normal-to-normal interval differences


Standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals


RMSSD-to-SDNN ratio


Pre-exercise resting period


Period between 5- and 10-min post-exercise


Period between 25- and 30-min post-exercise


Intra-class correlations


Pearson’s correlation coefficient


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael R. Esco.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by The University of Alabama’s Institutional Review Board.

Research involving human and animal participants

The research involved human participants. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Communicated by Keith Phillip George.

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Esco, M.R., Williford, H.N., Flatt, A.A. et al. Ultra-shortened time-domain HRV parameters at rest and following exercise in athletes: an alternative to frequency computation of sympathovagal balance. Eur J Appl Physiol 118, 175–184 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-017-3759-x

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  • Heart rate variability
  • Time-domain
  • Cardiovascular-autonomic control
  • Athlete monitoring