Clinical Autonomic Research

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 107–115 | Cite as

Interval training in elderly men increases both heart rate variability and baroreflex activity

  • Vincent PichotEmail author
  • Frédéric Roche
  • Christian Denis
  • Martin Garet
  • David Duverney
  • Frédéric Costes
  • Jean-Claude Barthélémy



Autonomic nervous system activity decreases continuously with age and appears to be a powerful predictor of disease and death. Attempts are thus made to reactivate autonomic drive with the intent of improving health.


We assessed maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), auto- nomic nervous system activity by heart rate variability (HRV) analysis and spontaneous cardiac baroreflex activity (SBR) in eleven elderly men (73.5±4.2 years) before and after a 14-week program of intensive cycloergometer interval training. The standard HRV indices were calculated using time domain (mean RR, PNN50, RMSSD, SDNN, SDANN and SDNNIDX), and Fourier transform (total power, ULF,VLF, LF, LFnu, HF, HFnu and LF/HF) analyses of 24-hour, daytime and nighttime Holter recordings. The SBR was calculated from 15-minute recordings of spontaneous blood pressure and RR interval variations using the sequence (slope, slSBR) and cross-spectral (αSBRHF and αSBRLF) methods.


After the training period,VO2max increased by 18.6 % (26.8±4.4 to 31.8±5.2 ml · kg–1 · min–1, p<0.01). The nocturnal parasympathetic indices of HRV increased (PNN50: 3.05±2.21 to 5.00±2.87%, RMSSD: 29.1±7.6 to 38.8±10.9 ms, HF: 117±54 to 194±116 ms2/Hz, all p<0.05) as did the SBR indices (slSBR: 7.0±1.8 to 9.8±2.1 ms·mmHg–1, p<0.01; αSBRHF: 6.9±2.2 to 10.5±3.7 ms ·mmHg–1, p<0.05; αSBRLF: 5.3±2.3 to 6.9±3.1 ms ·mmHg–1, p=0.22).


Intensive endurance training in elderly men enhanced parasympathetic parameters of HRV and, interestingly, of SBR. Physiological mechanisms and long-term clinical effects on health status should be further investigated.

Key words

aging exercise baroreflex autonomic nervous system activity heart rate variability 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent Pichot
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Frédéric Roche
    • 1
  • Christian Denis
    • 1
  • Martin Garet
    • 1
  • David Duverney
    • 1
  • Frédéric Costes
    • 1
  • Jean-Claude Barthélémy
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de PhysiologieGIP E2S, Université de Saint-EtienneSaint-EtienneFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de PhysiologieCHU Nord—Niveau 6Saint-Etienne, Cedex 2France

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