Effects of age on heart rate response during a strenuous match of tennis

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1990 Dec;30(4):389-96.


Ten young women tennis players (YP: 15-30 years) and 10 veteran women tennis players (VP: 40-51 years) of equivalent skill took part in this study. In the laboratory, maximal heart rate (maxHR), VO2max and blood lactate concentration (LA) at exhaustion were measured. On the field, each match was carried out as an official competition. However, in order to obtain a strenuous match, some experimental conditions were imposed (duration, hydration, skill of opponent, etc.). Heart rate (HR) was recorded throughout the match and LA was measured at rest before the match and immediately at the end of the match. While mean heart rate intensity remained relatively steady in YP it tended to increase as the game went on in VP. Due to the lower maxHR and VO2max, VP play at a higher percentage of maxHR and thus probably at a greater relative exercise intensity than YP. For the last part of the match, in some VP, who stopped playing due to exhaustion, HR intensity reached a considerable high level. No significant increase in LA was found at the end of the match in either group. If individual values were considered, no large increase in LA was found in the exhausted women. Obviously fatigue did not result from a muscle lactate accumulation. On the other hand, this moderate LA suggests that the oxygen transport was not a limiting factor of activity, although maxHR, thus probably a maximum cardiac output, was reached. Among the possible factors responsible for the exhaustion a decrease in kinetics of heart rate recovery may be considered in veteran tennis players.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Lactic Acid
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Tennis*


  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid