The purpose of the present study was to define the influence of age and exercise training on the heart rate (HR) dynamic response (i.e. kinetics) to sinusoidal work. A total of 63 healthy subjects (31 men and 32 women; age range 19-69 years) underwent a three-step incremental work test, during which peak oxygen uptake (o2peak) was estimated by the YMCA method. Sinusoidal work varying between 20% and 60% of HRreserve was employed for periods of 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12min. HR was monitored in a beat-by-beat manner with a cardiotachometer. The kinetics of the HR response were analysed by frequency analysis and estimated by a first-order transfer function with time constant (τ) and time delay (TD). Physical training status was estimated as stepping frequency, as measured with a pedometer during the daytime, and averaged over seven consecutive days. The mean response time of HR kinetics (HRMRT: τ pulse TD) tended to increase gradually with age (0.36sċyear-1), and linear regression analysis revealed that the correlation between HRMRT and age was significant (r = 0.31, P < 0.05), although not as highly significant as that between HRMRT and physical activity (r =-0.48, P < 0.0001). HRMRT was not related to the S.D. of HR variation (an indicator of parasympathetic mediation) at rest. In addition, o2peak showed a significantly greater correlation with age (r =-0.60, P < 0.0001) than with physical activity (r =-0.14, not significant). In conclusion, these findings suggest that HR dynamics, which may depend on sympathetic nervous activity, are more sensitive to physical activity than to age, but that o2peak, as estimated by the age-associated decline in maximum HR, is unrelated to physical training status.

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